The best of times, the worst of timesTo coin a phrase, it was the best of times and the worst of times. Anyone who saw it – and through the years, I would imagine tens of thousands more people than who were actually in the building will say that they did – will never forget it.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
MINNEA-POLIS – To coin a phrase, it was the best of times and the worst of times.
Anyone who saw it – and through the years, I would imagine tens of thousands more people than who were actually in the building will say that they did – will never forget it.
Evan Oberg made a name for himself among UMD hockey fans that will last for a long, long time by his famous, last-second goal to tie Friday’s NCAA West Regional semifinal against Princeton. And then his teammate Mike Connolly won perhaps the wildest finish to a college hockey game that these eyes have ever seen.
That was the best of times. The worst of times followed the next night, when an error in judgment by officials might have cost UMD a shot at overtime in the regional final.
That’s a difficult thing to have to write. Yet the way the rules of hockey are written, there’s no way MacGregor Sharp’s second period power play goal against Miami should have been overturned.
If you saw the game, you know the circumstance by heart. After allowing a shorthanded goal to the RedHawks on that same power play, the Bulldogs tied the game 1-1 when Sharp one-timed a shot from the left circle between Fontaine’s legs and past Miami keeper Cody Reichard into the goal.
Right? Wrong. At least in the eyes of the officials. After the goal was scored, it was reversed on video replay, under the contention that Fontaine screened the goaltender while in the crease.
A look at the replay shows that Fontaine wasn’t in the crease; he was straddling it. And if you buy the argument that he was in the crease, the replay also shows he was pushed there by a Miami defenseman.
And anyone who has ever played hockey will tell you that screening the goaltender on a power play is part of a forward’s job. UMD lost a perfectly good goal because Fontaine was doing what he was supposed to be doing.
That is keenly frustrating for those who have watched this team play – and play brilliantly – over the last several weekends. It’s even more frustrating because I’ve been told that replay isn’t supposed to be used for that purpose.
So you can make a very good case for a 2-2 score at the end of regulation time. I do believe UMD should have at least had the chance at overtime. You can also argue that if any of the three goalposts UMD hit during Saturday’s game had not been in the way, they might even have won. But the call was made – erroneous though it was – and UMD’s season eventually ended one game short of the Frozen Four.
That isn’t going to change. Getting a hockey official to admit a mistake is only slightly easier than playing an ocarina. Witness the NHL’s convoluted attempt to show that Brett Hull’s Stanley Cup winning “goal” of a few years ago for Dallas was actually legal – so it’s time to get back to the positive.
This was a Bulldog team that a lot of people had given up for dead just three weekends ago. They had just lost twice at home to ninth-placed Alaska-Anchorage and were facing a trip to Colorado Springs for their transgressions at the end of the season.
Only it didn’t work out that way. The ‘Dogs swept the favored Tigers, steamrolled the opposition in St. Paul to win the school’s first Broadmoor Trophy since 1985, and then staged the mother of all comebacks to knock off the Tigers in the West regional semifinals.
That’s one reason why the way the regional final went was so frustrating. The team was playing so well that it seemed only a miracle could stop them from winning – or, a mistake.
Unfortunately, the mistake happened. The season is over – arguably one weekend too soon – as a partial result. We’ll never know if UMD would have won that game, so it’s not fair to say they lost because of the officiating. But it is fair to say that they should have had the opportunity to play on into overtime.
You never know what might have happened. So bring on the 2009-10 season. It’s the only way to make amends.