January 30, 2006 PRINT Bookmark and Share

CCHA: Referee Followed Protocol

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

The CCHA's replay rule was in the spotlight again this weekend, when Michigan State was denied a goal despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Of course, the CCHA's replay rule is not their rule at all. It is an implementation of a protocol put on the books by the NCAA men's ice hockey rules committee. It was codified after being experimented with by the WCHA last season.

Officially, for the regular season, the rule allows for the use of an overhead camera, directly above the goal line, to be able to rule on disputed goals. The on-ice referee has sole discretion over whether to check the replay, and does so through use of a monitor. The referee makes the final call.

This is different from the rule that governs conference postseasons and the NCAA tournament. There, every goal is reviewed by a replay official, who can also decide to review other plays. The replay official makes the determination.

For this season, the CCHA did not budget yet for replay, but allowed the individual schools to budget for it themselves. Three chose to do so: Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan.

This came into play again Friday, in a game between Michigan and Michigan State that was televised on CSTV.

In the first period, with MSU leading 1-0, Ethan Graham ripped a slapper seemed to miss the net — at least it seemed that way to most people. But the MSU bench protested, asserting the puck went in.

A CSTV replay, from an angle behind the net, clearly showed the puck going through the mesh.

However, the only replay angle available to the on-ice referee was the overhead camera.

"A puck could not be identified in the replay angle that we have," said CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos. "And, as you know, the protocol only calls for that view. That's the only view that's official."

There was a nine-minute delay while the referee viewed the replay. Anastos said the referee was meticulously looking for a definitive answer.

"He went frame by frame by frame, over and over and over, and he couldn't identify the puck," said Anastos. "He took an unusual step — and I'm fine with it — of asking the linesman to come verfiy what he saw, or didn't see.

"Obviously that kid must have shot a rocket. They checked the net two or three times."

Anastos said this will obviously open some questions.

"This will provide that unique opportunity in the offseason (to discuss it)," he said. "What if the game is televised and you have access to other camera angles?

"Obviously, on TV, from that perspective you could see the goal. But the official took the proper steps. A puck could not be identified."

Anastos said the main use of replay is to determine whether a puck crossed the goal line. In that case, the overhead angle is very effective.

"It was not designed to account for a puck going through the net," he said. "That's a freak thing."

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