I realize now that I never should have entitled my last post "Crazy Night". Should have kept it for tonight's road win over Fayetteville...
Before I even address the game itself, I have to commend the b2 announcers. I blasted them in this space last week and tonight they were much improved. Only a couple of uses of the word "crap" and instances where they talked and joked while the game went on.
The biggest improvement was that after I and several others e-mailed them, they corrected the pronunciation of Ian Vigier's name. They butchered it pretty badly...and admitted it. They also attempted to call Columbus players by name which helps me tremendously.
This game was weird from start to finish. Dan Leslie and Brett Needham dropped the gloves only three seconds in. Before the period was over, Craig Stahl and Bobby Reed went at it as did Jason Slusher and Murray Free. That was only the first period!
After the first intermission, the announcers told us that Sam Bowles was no longer in the game. Huh? It seems that Jerome put on his lineup card: 21 Tim Hockley; 24 Tim Hockley. I didn't know the whole story until after the game...
I called Jerome to confirm this embarrassing mistake, only to have him tell me that he spotted and corrected the error before the first puck dropped. I call this the "Harry" Harris rule...
April 8, 2008. Knoxville. Game 5 of the playoffs. Harris comes out for warm-ups and it's almost game time. Jerome calls referee Michael McCreary over to the bench and points out that coach Scott Hillman has written "Harry" (his nickname) on the lineup card instead of Harris. There is no "Harry" on the Ice Bears roster, so McCreary sends Harris off the ice. He's out of game five...or not.
A quick phone call by Knoxville general manager Mike Murray to commissioner Jim Combs and...presto! Harry/Harris is back in the game. My jaw dropped and I couldn't wait to get an explanation. In no sport I've ever seen or covered could somebody play if he wasn't on the lineup card. I've covered lots of sports at lots of levels, from high school on up. So I went to my pal Mark Atnip, who does the PA in Knoxville and b2 on the road. Mark told me that Jim Combs said he "wasn't going to keep him out of game 5 for something like that." Huh? Rules are rules...but what is the rule?
I went to Murray and asked to see a copy of the rule. He said he'd meet me in the Ice Bears office after the game. Still waiting for that meeting...
Later Jerome said he was told he'd made a crucial mistake in the timing of his meeting with McCreary. He was told that the mistake had to be pointed out after the puck dropped. Since he told them before the game started, all Knoxville had to do was fix the lineup card and Harris got to play.
Fast forward to December 4, 2009. The 21/24/two Tim Hockleys in the lineup situation. Referee Shaun Andring insists that Sam can't play and says Jerome's wrong about the rule.
I went to the SPHL website and tried to download the Rule Book. Tried half a dozen times but it wouldn't work. I want to see the rule...once and for all. It appears to me that the Cottonmouths got the short end of the hockey stick on one of these occasions. Which one?
So, Sam is out of the game, which is pretty significant because both he and linemate Tim Green put up a lot of points last weekend. It puts a dent in one line, a line which had started to click. The Boucher-McCarthy-Stahl line hasn't contributed many points lately so all the pressure is now on the rookie line of Cole-Lind-Martens.
As it turned out, Sam's absence didn't have an adverse effect on the team. Jerome thinks it actually improved their focus.
Can't even think of Ian losing another shutout when he was less than two minutes away. He was pretty aggravated and frustrated. Hate it for him.
A big road victory for the Snakes. Their best effort all year on the road, according to Jerome. A rare Saturday night off and then a three-in-three next weekend.
Am going to email Jim and Doug at the league office for a copy of the Harry Harris rule. Stay tuned...