November 27, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Red Hot Mad

Cornell Denied Winning Goal, Loses in OT

by Joe Meloni/CHN Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Cornell forward John Esposito burned the blue line and fired a wrist shot as he hit the high slot. The puck hit the dasher behind Boston University goaltender Kieran Millan and kicked into the air.

The 12 players on the ice and the 18,200 in attendance turned away briefly, thinking the puck landed in the netting above the boards. There were exactly 4 minutes remaining in regulation, with the latest installment of Red Hot Hockey tied, 1-1.

Millan stayed square in his net, scanning the area directly around him, waiting for the puck to drop. After a few seconds that seemed more like an hour, Millan relented slightly as the official blew his whistle.

In a blink, the puck fell.

Landing softly on Millan's back and falling into the net. The Cornell players began celebrating and the officials conferred briefly before heading into the video booth. At this point, the portion of the red-and-white-clad crowd with Cornell scrawled across their chests began doing the same after seeing the replay.

The puck never went out of the play. It hit Millan's back and fell into the net. A goal. Plain and simple.

"The puck hit the back of the glass, went straight up in the air and stayed up in the air," Cornell coach Mike Schafer said.

The whistle, though, turned out to be the biggest issue in this case. Officials came out of the box and spread their arms out, indicating the goal had been disallowed as the play was blown dead.

Schafer disagrees.

"There is no sound. He said he blew the whistle. There was no whistle," Schafer said. "Everybody in the rink could hear there was no whistle. It's unfortunate. We have the technology available to get the call, and I just don't understand how it happened that they weren't able to get (the call) right."

In the past, "intent to blow the whistle" has been evoked by officials to explain a call. Even if there is something to Schafer's claim, the intent also deems the play dead.

BU coach Jack Parker knows a thing or two about auspicious whistle blows, after his team benefited from an early whistle in the 2009 Hockey East Championship game, which BU won, 1-0. The determination wiped out what would've been a game-tying goal for Massachusetts-Lowell. On Saturday, Parker said that he definitively heard the whistle blow.

"They lost sight of the puck for a long time," Parker said. "They should've blown the whistle before that. After they blew the whistle, the puck went in the net. You can hear it clearly on the replay."

Though, at that point, he was thinking more about the decision of another review. BU junior Ross Gaudet deftly deflected a shot from defenseman Max Nicastro past Cornell goaltender Andy Iles at 2 minutes, 48 seconds of the overtime. The puck found Gaudet's stick, but officials headed to the booth once again — just to be safe.

"I don't even know why they reviewed it," Schafer said. "I don't know what the hell he was looking at. I don't know if he was trying to appease us by looking at it. Our guys clearly knew it was a goal."

Schafer's frustration is obviously understandable, as his team could've taken a huge step in the Paiwise with a win over BU. The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Big Red. Moreover, a win over BU would've been a nice boost for Cornell come season's end.

While a trip to Colorado Springs, Colo., for a pair with Colorado College provides another opportunity for Cornell to pick up some Pairwise-portfolio-building wins, Saturday's loss to BU will be difficult to forget should the Big Red need an at-large bid to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers, meanwhile, could experience that exact opposite effect with the push provided by their win over Cornell.

Neither team deserved a loss on Saturday night. These games often swing one way or the other based on a bounce or two. It's odd, though, when both teams received that fortuitous bounce, and only one receives the credit. The redirection from Ross Gaudet was BU's break, and the puck plopping into BU's goal was Cornell's.

The whistle blew, though. Whether or not it actually did will be discussed at length, but that's what four officials decided Saturday night. The game ended with the Terriers on top, 2-1, and that's really the only thing everyone can agree on.

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