The Select 17 Festival finished up Sunday afternoon in St. Cloud, and one of the biggest stories to come out of the event wasn't the fantastic play of the players involved, but the absurd number of penalties called in every game. Officials were apparently under orders to call things tight, and they took that directive to the extreme, leading to quite a bit of frustration from everyone else in St. Cloud.
That frustration reached a boiling point during the last game of the day on Saturday in the game between Team Black and Team Red. Black was leading 6-2 in the second half of the game. Red was whistled for two straight penalties. The first call was fairly weak. The second penalty was absolutely abysmal, and apparently it was the breaking point for Red. Red called timeout, and when they broke from the timeout, they left the goalie on the bench. When the referee dropped the puck, the Red team just stood around and let Black score into an empty net. The face-off came back out to center, and again, Red left the goalie pulled, and when the puck was dropped, Red just stood around again. Black took the puck, awkwardly skated towards the net and scored another easy goal.
I'm not sure that was the best way for the Red team to handle that situation, especially since those poor calls were consistent in every game I saw, but it does highlight a problem that USA Hockey needs to work on. I love the Select Festivals because there is so much great hockey crammed into such a short period of time, but when teams are intentionally allowing goals to protest bad calls, and PA announcers feel the need to announce when both penalty boxes are empty(yeah, that happened too), there's a problem with how the games are called. It's frustrating for the players, coaches, scouts, and fans that are there to watch. Hopefully USA Hockey gets this fixed, so it doesn't ruin a great event.
I'm still working on the full rundown of the event, and the players there, which should be done sometime this week.