There was a little bit of controversy in last night's game between Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth. I didn't get an opportunity to see the game, so I can't comment on most of the shenanigans of head official Don Adam and crew. But there was one particular play that nobody seemed to see very well, so I'm on even footing there.
The play in question happened in the first period. Duluth was killing off a 5-on-3 penalty when Drew Akins came out of the box and skated to the bench. Teammate Bryan McGregor jumped on for Akins and took the puck on the breakaway and scored a goal. After lengthy discussions with both coaches and changing his mind a couple times, Adam ruled that it was no goal and Duluth had committed a too many men on the ice penalty.
Nobody seemed to know for sure if McGregor had indeed jumped too early and it was a penalty, but that wasn't really the issue here, since linesman Tony Lancette, never made the call before the goal was scored. Incidentally, Tony Lancette is easily the most visible linesman in the WCHA, which is a really bad thing if you're a linesman.
Two examples really stick out in my mind when it comes to a situation like this:
1. Last night, I watched Minnesota State's Jon Kalinski trying to bring the puck out of his zone in the third period of the game. He was clearly hooked down from behind, and Bemidji took the puck and got a quality scoring chance. If Bemidji had scored there, would it have been ok for the officials to congregate and decide that Bemidji's scoring chance came as a direct result of an infraction and disallow the goal? Probably not.
2. This was a couple years ago, but I just saw someone reference it earlier this week. Northern Michigan player Chris Gobert was awarded a penalty shot late in a game against Nebraska-Omaha. Gobert scored on the penalty shot, but after the play, Omaha coach Mike Kemp asked the officials to check Gobert's stick. The stick was found to have an illegal curve. Again, Gobert had clearly committed an infraction, but because the call wasn't made before the goal, Gobert's penalty shot goal stood, though Gobert did have to serve a two-minute penalty.
Anyway, the point is that you can't go back and start retroactively calling penalties because that would be chaos.
There's also another problem, which is more of an indictment on WCHA refs in general. The NCAA rulebook makes it very clear that officials aren't supposed to let the game situation affect the way that they call the game, but it seems that most calls in the WCHA end up happening because of the situation. Now you have to ask, would that too many men penalty have been called if Duluth hadn't scored? Probably not since Tony Lancette didn't call the penalty while the play happened. So if he decided it wasn't blatant enough to call the penalty as the play happened, he shouldn't go back and change the call just because Duluth scored a goal.