Two Sides to the Waiting Game
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
ST. LOUIS For one team, the wait seemed like an eternity. For the other — well, it seemed like an eternity as well.
With just 2:35 gone by in the first overtime period, all eyes in the Scottrade Center shifted to the official scorers' table opposite the benches of Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha. As it turned out, all eyes remained fixed there for quite some time.
A lengthy review of over 10 minutes ensued following a play in which Michigan sophomore forward Kevin Lynch poked at a loose puck near the crease of Maverick goaltender John Faulkner. To the naked eye, Faulkner kicked the puck out for teammate Mike Young to clear the puck the length of the ice.
But Lynch was already raising his arms in victory, emphatically insisting to the on-ice officials that the puck had crossed the line underneath Faulkner's pads. Officials Chip McDonald and Harry Dumas headed into the booth to review the play, moments after McDonald had waived his arms on the ice to signify 'no goal.'
An eternity later, with players resting on one knee all over the ice in anticipation of a season-changing call, McDonald skated out of the box and pointed to the center of the ice, giving the Wolverines a 3-2 victory and sending them into a wild celebration around goaltender Shawn Hunwick.
But for Nebraska-Omaha — a team that advanced to the NCAA tournament in its first season as a member of the WCHA conference — the "sudden death" overtime turned out to be a long and agonizing one.
"That's probably one of the toughest ways to lose, sitting there waiting for them to make that call," said a dejected Mavericks senior captain Joey Martin. "And then when they called it a goal, it just sinks your heart."
Added assistant captain and classmate Rich Purslow, "That's what happens when the game goes into the extra period. Anything can happen."
Martin and Purslow both felt as though the original "no goal" call would stand. In fact, they were "confident," according to Martin.
Meanwhile, confidence brewed on the opposite bench as well.
Said Lynch, "I saw the puck go under the goalie's leg. I knew it was in. When it took them that long to review, I knew it was going to be a goal."
"It takes more to overturn the call than it does to keep it the same way," explained senior Louie Caporusso, who also admitted that he started looking at the fans behind the officials' TV monitors for clues. "The longer it took, the more comfortable we felt."
Lynch, for one, knows a thing or two about controversial overtime calls. A year ago almost to the day in Fort Wayne, Ind., an apparent goal by Lynch in the regional final against Miami was waived off after a disputed delayed penalty call.
Michigan went on to lose the game in double overtime.
"It's just desperate hockey," said Caporusso, of the overtime session. "The season can be over any minute if you don't show up to play. We wanted to play with resolve and an unlimited amount of persistence and patience. We knew things would turn in our favor eventually."
Following the game and a meeting with McDonald and Dumas, Secretary Rules Editor Steve Piotrowski released a statement, "The officials' initial on-ice call was no goal. There was reasonable evidence to believe the puck had completely crossed the goal line. The play was stopped at the next non-advantage situation to allow an opportunity for the on-ice referees to review the video. Following video review, the on-ice referees determined through conclusive video evidence that the puck had completely crossed the goal line and exited the net by way of the goalie's leg pad."
For Lynch, it was his second goal of the game. The first — a one-timer off a jaw dropping, cross-ice pass by senior defenseman Chad Langlais — tied the game, 2-2, in the second period. The Mavericks had jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, forcing the Wolverines' comeback attempt.
At 2:35 of the first overtime period, they completed that attempt — after, of course, the longest of waits for both teams.
"I've seen long decisions before, but I haven't been involved in [something like that] before," said UNO head coach Dean Blais.
"The referees signaled it was in, and we're going to accept that."