CCHA Replay Experiment
by Sean Caruthers/CHN Correspondent
EAST LANSING, Mich. The CCHA is experimenting with video replay in three rinks this season. Michigan, Michigan State, and Western Michigan all have technology that allows referees to judge a replay.
"Replay in college sports is a bit of a Catch-22," said CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos. "I know coaches want to make sure that the call is right. That is the fair thing to do for everyone involved, but at the same time it does have an impact on the game. It certainly can slow the game down.
"We are trying to be careful that we are using it at selective times, that it is not too intrusive to the game, and that the officials can use replay in an effective way that minimizes any delays."
Video replay is clearly still in its experimental phases. This was evident in a game this past weekend between Michigan State and Alaska Fairbanks. After referee Mark Wilkins ruled that a Spartan goal was disallowed for goaltender interference, he simply pointed to the faceoff circle, and play resumed. There was no explanation for anyone other than the team captains.
"We have to do a better job coordinating with the off-ice officials," said Anastos. "I believe the procedure calls for an announcement when the official goes to the box that the play is under review."
Anastos said the jury is still out on the whole system.
"This may be the first replay used to overturn a goal at Michigan State," he said. "It's been fine so far, but there has not been much to review, so it is still too early to call. The referees are still working through it. It is only in three of our rinks right now, and not every [official] has had the opportunity to use it. We'll have officials who work in those rinks six or seven games and not really have the chance to go to replay."
Currently, there is no league-wide procedure to relay what the result of the review was to the fans, either through the officials or the public address announcer. This disconnect between the fans and the on and off ice officials is bothersome for all involved.
"We have to figure out a mechanism to communicate this to fans. In football, the official announces that indisputable video evidence demonstrates a call. Yet, all of us here tonight were sitting around wondering why there was not a goal," said Anastos.
When asked about the possibility of adopting a system in which the referees could wear microphones, similar the process in the NHL and NFL video replay, Anastos said, "That has not been talked about, but it is something that technologically makes sense, expense-wise it makes sense, so we will have to at least take a serious look at it."