I know, I know, I know. You’ve already read the Hall of Fame Game React. You’re all set for Friday’s tilt against Boston College. And you’re wondering, “Why the need for another Hall of Fame Game article?” Well, I’ll tell you: Some of you fans out there are looking for something more. You want to discuss penalty calls, disallowed goals, line combinations, and strategies. You’ve read the recaps and the newspaper articles, but it’s not enough. And it’s not enough for me, either.
I have to admit to something that many people who know me already know. I watch old hockey games all the time. Yes, even when I know who wins. For me, it’s like a favorite movie. I always notice something new or learn something about the team or players every time I watch. Yes, I’m a hockey freak. It’s who I am. And the Game Rewind serves as a second look at this past weekend’s game.
So, anyway, on to the action:
The first thing that occurred to me as I watched Saturday’s game again was how solid the Fighting Sioux are up the middle. Oshie, Kaip, VandeVelde, and Zajac are all formidable on draws and capable of playing sound defensively in their own end.
On to the first big call of the contest: Brad Miller’s goal is disallowed as Kyle Radke is called for interference (7:05, 1st period), Notice I didn’t say Radke was whistled for interference. Seemingly, the penalty was called without a signal or a whistle. Don’t get me wrong here – it WAS a penalty. Radke cleared Michigan State defenseman Mike Ratchuk (#44) out of the slot as the pass came across to Miller.
The problem with this call was two-fold: First, no one had any idea what was going on. The on-air announcers thought the play must have been offside, or that the penalty occurred after the goal was scored. The refs were unclear at every point. The second problem was that the announcement in the arena was also unclear. The public address announcer simply said, “The goal has been disallowed.” And then went on to announce Radke’s penalty as if the two were unrelated to one another.
To make a short story long: it was a penalty, but it was handled poorly.
Oshie’s goal (11:38, 1st period) to make it 1-0 was a very nice shot, but the real play was Duncan’s cross-ice pass that created the space inside the zone. The first of many, I’m sure.
Alright, on to the biggest call of the night: The hitting from behind call on T.J. Oshie. After watching the play countless times, and reading the most current version of the rulebook, the call had to be made.
The rulebook has this to say regarding hitting from behind:
SECTION 23. a. A player shall not push, charge, cross-check, or body check an opponent from behind in open ice.
PENALTY—Minor or major at the discretion of the referee.
So in open ice, the referee uses discretion to determine the penalty.
SECTION 23. b. Hitting from behind into the side boards, end boards or goal cage is a flagrant violation.
PENALTY—Major and game misconduct or disqualification at the discretion of the referee.
In this case, the only decision is whether the player is given a misconduct (and therefore misses only that game) or a disqualification (and misses the following game as well).
In two separate paragraphs, the NCAA Rules Committee addresses concern about players turning in order to draw hitting from behind penalties, but concludes by saying “the positive change in behavior the committee observed (after emphasizing the rule last season) outweighs this issue.” The committee reminds players and coaches (and indirectly, fans) that the responsibility remains with the player approaching an opponent along the boards in this rule. Furthermore, the committee notes that it considered intermediate penalties (e.g., minor and misconduct, major only, game and misconduct) but ultimately decided any lesser option would send the wrong message to officials, players and coaches.
So in Oshie’s case, even though he was simply chasing the puck-carrier and riding him along the boards, he did push with his forearm and Abdelkader (MSU #9) was in that dangerous area, just far enough away from the boards so as to be unprotected. Yes, I know that the penalty is called “hitting from behind” (or mistakenly called “checking from behind”), but the rule includes body checking and pushing.
So, in short: given the current state of the rules, the right call was made. It’s unfortunate that no discretion is allowed in this case, but it’s simply not. And the committee has done its due diligence, weighed all of the factors, and decided that this type of play is too dangerous to mess around with anything less than a major penalty and a game misconduct or disqualification.
Alright, on to the rest of the rewind.
The interference call (goaltender interference?) was clearly of the make-up variety. I’d like someone to crunch the numbers on how many times a team with a five-minute major power play is whistled for a penalty sometime during that span.
Duncan’s goal (16:28, 1st period), an intended pass which deflected off of MSU defenseman Dustin Gazely’s skate and found the far post, was crazy. Even highly skilled players get lucky sometimes!
I love VandeVelde, Zajac, Kaip, and Watkins killing penalties up front.
I did not see Trupp instigating anything. I saw Trupp get cross-checked across the face and fall down.
VandeVelde swatting the puck out of the air and in was beautiful. (6:55, 2nd period)
There were stretches in the second and early in the third where Michigan State sustained offensive pressure, but our defensive zone coverage was very solid.
The back-breaker goal was UND’s fourth (3:02, 3rd period). Michigan State had come out in the third period with purpose and had sustained offensive pressure. The Spartans had created an odd-man rush. Chorney broke up the play and joined the three-on-one the other way. Matt Frattin was given plenty of room down the left wing (Duncan got all of the attention on the other side) and scored on a nice low wrist shot to stem the Spartan tide.
Kozek had a great game. He is playing with purpose, and his goal (15:49, 3rd period) was a result of that. It looks like he realizes how close he is to being on the outside of this lineup looking in. In my opinion, he earned a spot in the lineup Friday night.
Genoway’s tally (17:02, 3rd period) was tipped in the slot, and Lerg had no chance.
The Sioux won their sixth consecutive season opener.
This game was a lot closer than the final score indicates. Lamoureux (23 save shutout) was a difference maker, and the Sioux found a way to finish their chances (6 goals on 22 shots). I don’t think these two teams are that far apart, and I do not believe the Spartans are “overrated”.
All four freshmen in the lineup (Frattin, Malone, Trupp, and LaPoint) played well and did not look out of place at all. All four forward lines and 4 of 6 defensemen figured in the scoring. Those contributions up and down the lineup are key to UND’s success this season.
That does it for this edition of Game Rewind. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Thanks for reading!