If you simply looked at the box score from last Thursday’s Boston College-Massachusetts game played in Amherst, Mass., you would think it was a close game that the Eagles won 2-1.
What the box score wouldn’t tell you, however, was that UMass appeared to score the tying goal in the third period only to have it nullified by a controversial video review.
That review led the NCAA to issue a memo on Friday clarifying the use of video replay to review whether a play is onside and, further, Hockey East issuing a press release on Saturday explaining that the officials had erred three times in the review of the play while noting that, in essence, there was nothing the league could do.
To set the stage, UMass scored the apparent tying goal on a three-on-two rush. Immediately after the goal, BC coach Jerry York used his timeout and called over referees Kevin Keenan and Jeff Bunyon to ask them to review the play under what is essentially a coach’s challenge.
After careful review, it was decided that indeed the play was offside on the left wing side and the goal was nullified.
While that was the correct call, it was a call that needed to be made at the time of the play; it should never have been allowed to go to video review.
Two years ago, the NCAA inserted a rule that allowed officials to review plays where an obvious (in their words, “egregious”) offside occurred on the play or where a goal was scored while the attacking team had too many men on the ice. When first instituted, these reviews were only to occur in televised league tournament and NCAA tournament games.
The rule was developed after a 2012 NCAA East Regional game between Massachusetts-Lowell and Union where Union scored an empty-net goal from center ice before one of the Dutchmen players had cleared the offensive zone. At the time, although video replay clearly showed the play was offside, the officials had no recourse to review the play under the NCAA’s criteria for use of instant replay.
Fast forward to last summer, where leagues petitioned the NCAA to allow this review to be used in regular season games. In a July 5, 2013, memo issued by NCAA rules secretary Steve Piotrowski, it was decreed that replay may be used to correct an error on offside or too many players that directly leads to a goal but ONLY in games that are televised.
The thought process is that televised games provide officials with sufficient angles to review an offside or too-many-players situation whereas a standard house feed might not.
Thursday’s game at UMass wasn’t televised; it was live streamed on the UMass website. Thus, replay shouldn’t have been used. Similarly, under the criteria where a coach may ask for video review of a goal, the new offside/too many players review is not included. And finally, the rule specifically says that the offside must be “egregious” according to the rules and the play against UMass was not.
Hockey East supervisor of officials Dan Schachte said he takes full responsibility.
“As far as what Thursday, the buck stops with me,” Schachte said. “The [officials], I would say that they weren’t prepared properly and at the end of the day, that sits squarely in my lap.”
As the rule is relatively obscure and doesn’t occur often, none of Thursday’s night crew had experience enforcing it. In fact, Schachte said, there is further discussion with the NCAA and supervisors from additional conferences to better clarify the new rule.
“One of the things that happens when you begin writing things down [such as new rules], you skip a bunch of things,” Schachte said. “I think this is a perfect example.
“That’s the type of thing that we need answers on. But at the end of the day, we weren’t prepared and I take responsibility for it.”
For Schachte, the play last Thursday is the first in his year-and-a-half tenure as supervisor that has caused such controversy. In further speaking with Schachte, he was forthcoming with some of the improvements in officiating that have been made under his watch as well as some of the challenges that still lie ahead.
Schachte said he is happy with improvements made in one major area of concern from a year ago: diving. In this space a year ago, Schachte called the diving problem in Hockey East embarrassing.
Determined to make it better, Schachte’s officials not only attempted to call diving more closely, but he went so far as to address individual players and coaches.
“I wouldn’t go as far to say that diving and embellishment doesn’t happen,” said Schachte, “but there are some mechanisms in place that allow me as coordinator a little more latitude. I can call people out on it and I have done it and I’ll continue to do it.
“What I’ve noticed is that when I talk to a coach or I talk to a kid, it stops.”
While diving has been curbed, one area of officiating Schachte still wants to see improve is consistency among officials. That consistency doesn’t just translate from official to official but also from night to night.
Schachte said that he wants teams playing a two-game weekend series to be able to have both games called the same whether or not the officiating crew is the same.
He said anecdotally that officials have had more problems on Friday night games than on Saturday. Schachte said traffic heading to games on Friday night can stress out an official, many of whom come to the games from their day job. He said that oftentimes he will call officials as they drive to their assignments on Friday, hoping to make sure they’re in the right mind when they arrive at the arena.
“I talk to the guys on the way to the game in the car,” said Schachte. “I want them to be prepared to do the game. I’m not concerned about what happened at work, not concerned about the kid’s report card. I want undivided attention when you’re out doing this game.”
On a positive note, Schachte said that two of Hockey East’s officials — first-year referee Keith Kaval and second-year linesman Tommy George — are nominees to officiate the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The official announcement will come on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.
“They’ll be on pins and needles waiting to hear,” said Schachte.
Mauermann breaking through for the Friars
It’s easy when you talk about the Providence Friars to immediately point to goaltender Jon Gillies as their go-to player.
But understanding that defense can get you only so far in hockey and that the balance of goal scoring is just as important, a team needs to find offensive players if it’s going to have success.
This season, junior Ross Mauermann has been that offensive spark plug for the Friars. With 10 goals in 11 games this season, including three goals last weekend against Vermont, Mauermann has already shown early on this season will be a breakthrough year for the forward from Janesville, Wis.
“He brings everything for us,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said of Mauermann. “He’s a great competitor. He works hard and he’s a tremendous competitor.
Mauermann, according to Leaman, has grown with the program. Thrown into the fire as a freshman, Mauermann got the ice time necessary to build him into a standout forward this season.
“He came in and unfortunately he had to play first or second line center. That’s really tough,” said Leaman. “Asking a freshman to come in and do that is tough.”
Mauermann plays every role on the team. In addition to being first-line center, he’s a major part of Providence’s power play and is a solid penalty killer as well.
Of his 10 goals, three have been game winners, one has come on the power play and one has come short-handed. He’s been held off the score sheet just once this season, a 1-0 victory at Merrimack.
“Because of [the experience Mauermann got], those minutes that he played his freshman and sophomore year, you can really see him take a big step here his junior year and be one of the best players in the country at this point,” Leaman said.
Injury bug hits South Bend
Notre Dame’s welcome to Hockey East has been fine on the scoreboard, with the Irish posting a 2-1-1 record through four league games and an 8-3-1 mark overall.
But those early wins haven’t come without some significant losses.
Entering this weekend’s two-game series at Massachusetts-Lowell, the Irish will be without five players from their regular lineup. The two biggest names of that bunch are rookie Vince Hinostroza, who didn’t play last weekend but still leads the team in scoring, and defenseman Eric Johnson.
Additionally, sophomore forwards Steven Fogarty and Thomas DiPauli as well as senior forward Mike Voran are all injured and expected to miss significant time.
“We’ve been playing with the bare minimum for the last few weeks and we’ll continue to do that for the next few weeks,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. “It’s impacted our depth offensively and certainly changed the way we play.”
• If there is one team that seems poised to take advantage of the new NCAA selection criteria that awards teams in the Ratings Percentage Index for victories on the road, it is Massachusetts-Lowell. The River Hawks are 6-1 away from Tsongas Center and ride a six-game road win streak after a win at Princeton and two wins at Penn State last week.
• Boston University is one team that is confusing as heck to follow right now. Since beginning the season 3-1, including a 7-3 victory against Wisconsin, the Terriers are 2-5 and posted lopsided losses at home against Boston College (5-1) and last Friday on the road against Maine (7-0). The Terriers will look to right the ship this weekend against another team performing below expectations out of the gate, North Dakota. BU hosts NoDak for two Friday and Saturday.
• New Hampshire fans can maybe breathe a little easier after the Wildcats have posted five straight wins since losing to Lowell 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 2. While UNH has allowed just four goals in those five victories, the story is the Wildcats offense. Struggling to score goals out of the gate, UNH has scored 24 goals in the five wins including a nine spot on the road at UMass.
• Think travel is easy? Think again if you’re Merrimack. The Warriors got caught in the vicious storms that ravaged the Midwest on Sunday and were forced to spend Sunday night in Chicago after their two-game series at Notre Dame. The Warriors made the most of the time by holding an impromptu team bowling tournament, according to Facebook and Twitter feeds. Merrimack finally arrived back to Boston mid-afternoon on Monday.
— Merrimack M. Hockey (@MC_MHockey) November 18, 2013
USCHO covers Hockey East all week long on the Hockey East Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.