Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brown Experiences the Tute Screw

So this is what it feels like to be on the other end of the screwjob.

As we said on Sunday morning, it still feels kind of hollow, but doesn't hurt nearly as much. Go ahead. You can admit it to yourselves. RPI got away with one, stealing a point from Brown like a thief in the night, due to a bad call and perhaps divine intervention - a malfunctioning replay system.

We're not going to sit here and dissect this one. We did this last year at this time, and it was directly related to how the use of replay and breaking down replay. Getting the call wrong when you've got access to replay is simply ridiculous.

But the referees on Saturday night, for whatever reason, did not have access to replay. They got the call wrong - but not egregiously wrong, even though a look at the overhead pretty quickly confirms that it was a goal. Nobody interfering with the netminder. Nobody in the crease. Net was on its moorings when the puck crossed the line, and clearly it was in well before the whistle. It would have been kind of an "own goal" if it had counted, but those are still good goals.

A lot was happening all at once. A player ended up in the net and the net was dislodged as a number of players were crashing. The puck was clearly not in sight of the officials. Plays like that, sometimes, you're going to get the call wrong on the ice. That's all that happened. And under normal circumstances, you'd just go to the replay and get the call right.

There's still plenty that the league needs to do on officiating - the seemingly arbitrary nature of what constitutes a penalty at times is maddening, and it even reared its ugly head during the overtime period against Brown. Seconds before Riley Bourbonnais was called for a seriously weak elbowing call in the extra session, the Bears arguably got away with an interference call that created a 2-on-1 and a scoring opportunity when Parker Reno was taken down between his man and the puck. Not calling it because it's overtime? That's fine. That's possibly even preferable. So why was the call made on Bourbonnais (as seen in the same link)?

Bourbonnais, as time was about to expire in regulation, laid a nice open-ice check on Tyler Bird along the Brown blueline that left the Bears defenseman resting on one knee for a short time. I'd bet anything that the weak call on Bourbonnais in overtime was because Bird didn't pop back up right away, even on a pretty clearly legal hit. This whole "carry over" or "make up" call thing has got to stop. Mess a call up? Move on.

And let's be real for a moment here, too. If this replay malfunction had happened at practically any other rink in the ECAC, the game's post mortem would have read something like this: "RPI argued that they had scored in the extra session, but a malfunction of the replay system in Providence made it unclear whether they had scored or not, and the officials stuck with their initial call on the ice."

It's only because RPI TV does a superior job with their broadcasts and their camera work - which now includes in-net cameras - that we know for a fact that the Bears were screwed over. Brown goaltender Tim Ernst wouldn't have been making sarcastic tweets at the ECAC (since, wisely, deleted) about the play if RPI TV didn't have a high-definition camera over the goal that they could use to let the rest of the world see the replay. That should be a point of pride - and even more so that it's free to the public to watch this outstanding broadcast. If you watch this broadcast regularly, please, make a donation to their cause.

Yeah, if the shoe was on the other foot, we'd be livid, and Brown has every right to be livid. But this is something out of everyone's control. Technology is great when it works, but it's not foolproof. The officials did the right thing. They went to the video tape. It wasn't there. So they huddled. And they got the call wrong. We can be as upset as we want at bad officiating, but there's an allowance for human error, especially when the technology fails.

Some have used this incident to complain that there needs to be a backup available. How? And more importantly, why? When was the last time we heard about this being an issue? 99 times out of 100, they go to the video system, and it's there ready to be used. It's the officials' job before games to make sure that the replay system is functioning. If it was working before the game and they checked, it's a blameless problem. If it wasn't and they didn't check, it's totally on them. But this doesn't happen frequently enough to require schools that have already had to invest in a replay system to also invest in something additional - like having something like RPI TV ready and able to show a replay.

It sucks to lose a point this way, yes. But from our perspective, it sucks to gain a point this way, too. If you want everything to be above board, you have to admit when you've been the beneficiary of the screwjob just as much as you'd complain about it when you're in Brown's position. But we were the beneficiaries.

And now, we move on - the screwjob balance tipped slightly back in our favor for a change. Sorry, Bears. We may not be elephants, but we have a long memory.

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