MILWAUKEE — Jordan Parise would probably like to forget the 2006 Frozen Four.
After a stellar season, Parise had one of those games straight out of a goaltender’s nightmare on the largest stage in the sport.
The numbers spell disaster pretty quickly: three goals on five shots in the first period, and Chris Collins using him to make a final case for the Hobey Baker Award (Parise probably should have had two of Collins’ three goals, especially the third — BC’s fifth — with 23 seconds left in the second period, which slipped through his pads).
But to add injury to insult, Parise found himself on his backside twice during the game. A very physical BC challenged Parise any time he left his goal crease to play the puck. In the first period, Nathan Gerbe checked him on a hit that was “unavoidable,” while Matt Greene reached out and pulled him down in the second along the sideboards.
Only the second of those hits was penalized, and by the third period, the rattled junior netminder could be seen taking an extra look around when he departed his crease to make a pass.
Goaltenders face enough abuse in college hockey without getting hit. Between the natural pressures of the position and the “Sieve!” chants that rain upon any mistake, the psyche of a netminder can be precarious. The one solace a goaltender has is that the rules make his person more or less inviolable.
Yet for Parise, it’s going to be a painful plane ride back to Grand Forks in more ways than one.
Everyone expects fans to yell at the refs. Some coaches have made an entire career berating officials. But the semifinal between BC and UND saw something novel: the refs yelling at the refs.
Seven minutes into the second period, when Greene took down Parise, Piotrowski looked at the play from across the ice and decided that no penalty had occurred. His judgment was probably right. Greene poked at the puck and Parise did not fall until Greene was skating away. The assistant referee, however, watching from the near side of the ice, disagreed and called Greene for a penalty.
A visibly upset Piotrowski could be seen on the ice castigating his partner for the decision. Yet, Piotrowski had no choice but to confirm the penalty and then explain a decision he clearly disagreed with to irate BC coach Jerry York.
The call could have changed the game. The Fighting Sioux only trailed 3-1 at the time and now had a 59-second five-on-three power play. The Eagles killed off both penalties.
But Piotrowski’s importuning to his colleagues went unheeded. As if to prove the point that the AR’s have penalty-calling powers too, about six minutes later they tagged BC again. Andrew Orpik delivered a beautiful open-ice hit on Mike Prpich on the North Dakota blueline. Prpich had just passed the puck and had his head down. Orpik timed the shoulder check perfectly and knocked the Sioux forward’s helmet off with a hit that would have made Scott Stevens proud.
This time, Boston College paid for the AR’s call when Ryan Kaip scored just after the penalty had expired.
Piotrowski did not visibly react to this decision. He is widely considered the best referee in college hockey and his officiating marks the only contribution that the CCHA will be able to make to this year’s tournament. Without a Frozen Four team for the third straight year, the conference at least helps out by providing the cream of its crews.
Excessive bashing of the referees in any context is poor sportsmanship. Especially at the levels of sport below college, it is particularly brutish. Still, in this second period, it was amusing to find out that even referees can’t help themselves.