Blades victimized by linesman error
By Cory Wolfe, TheStarPhoenix.com
March 26, 2009
SASKATOON — A missed offside during Wednesday’s WHL playoff game in Lethbridge led to a goal against the Saskatoon Blades, Western Hockey League officials conceded Thursday.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes went on to win the game 2-1 and even the best-of-seven series 2-2.
“The officials are under scrutiny with respect to their performance and we expect them to do the best they can, but sometimes errors are made,” said WHL commissioner Ron Robison.
“In this particular case, video after the fact indicated that there clearly was an offside. We have acknowledged that and taken steps to correct it internally.”
The offside occurred early in the third period when Lethbridge defenceman Ben Wright failed to keep the puck in the Saskatoon zone. However, play continued and Zach Boychuk scored moments later to tie the match 1-1. Then, with 9:03 left in regulation, Boychuk scored what proved to be the game-winner.
The missed call came to light after Shaw TV, which broadcast the game, repeatedly showed replays of the puck clearly crossing the blue-line before Wright shot it back in. The WHL instituted video replay for these playoffs, but the play was not reviewed because no one on the ice was aware that a mistake had been made, said Robison.
“We don’t review those types of calls by video replay, but we would review it if any other official on the ice saw that it wasn’t the right call.”
The Blades did not argue the call at the time. Saskatoon coach-GM Lorne Molleken said he was not aware of the missed call until after the game when he received phone calls from people who has watched the game on TV.
“From where we were standing, and even when I watch it on (the team’s video), I can’t see the puck,” said Molleken. “But the Shaw cameras were right there and the puck was outside the line. The linesman was 10 feet away from the play and called it good.”
The linesman has been disciplined, confirmed Robison, but the commissioner would not elaborate on the punishment.
“There’s accountability in our officiating program and that’s a key part of it,” said Robison. “We take the necessary action when these things occur. . . . People should be assured that officials, just like players, are accountable for their performance.”
Molleken accepted the league’s apology and said there’s no sense getting caught up in what-ifs.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it (Wednesday) night, just as we can’t to do anything about it today,” he said Thursday. “You put it behind you and get ready for Saturday night.”
Game 5 is Saturday, 7 p.m., at Credit Union Centre.
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