It was a classic Columbus-Knoxville game until the last six seconds. The lead kept changing back and forth, with both teams fighting for two points.
There were two referees on the ice, which is not necessarily a good thing. In a rough year for the orange stripes, it seems that when there are two refs, instead of twice the calls being made, half are called and the rest of the time, the whistles are buried.
Ya'all know what my mama used to say...If you can't do better, keep your opinions to yourself. Since I can't even stand up on skates, no way could I ever be a ref...so I probably should keep quiet. No way. This was probably the worst travesty I've seen in 10 seasons covering the Snakes in the SPHL.
The refs are human beings. Granted. They miss some, call some they shouldn't, blah, blah, blah. With replay now available to show them up or hail them as heroes, we get to see all their flaws exposed.
Setting the stage: The Snakes take an ill-timed penalty, giving Knoxville a PP with just over two minutes to play in a game where they trail 3-2. In Andy Willigar's defense, holding is called sometimes, but a lot of times it's not. Many (most?) referees put the whistles in their pockets down the stretch unless it's a blatant, aggressive, dangerous foul. You know, kind of like playoff hockey.
I'll be honest. In viewing on the web, I didn't see Andy's penalty. Regardless, no excuses there. It's up to the Snakes to kill it as they'd killed the previous seven Knoxville opportunities. The clock was ticking down the final seconds with the two points headed the Snakes' way, a great start to a long road trip.
David Segal's PPG ties it. Yikes. 3-3 with 1:23 to play.
Now, that's unsettling enough. Great game, great battles, but losing a lead that late...pretty tough. But not as bitter a pill as the Snakes were forced to swallow a few minutes later.
With 6 SECONDS LEFT, Andrew Loewen is accused (actually tried and convicted) of intentionally kicking the net off its moorings (which in Knoxville they don't have in the first place) and, incredibly, Knoxville is awarded a penalty shot. Sorry, but no way I believe Andrew intentionally knocked the net off.
Mike Vee said Andrew was whistled for interference, but no penalty for interference appears on the scoresheet. Actually no penalty on Andrew at all. The clock reads 19:54. One of the refs...Ken Anderson or Andy Howard...awards Knoxville a penalty shot. All hell breaks loose. (Am I allowed to say 'hell' in this blog? Oh, well...I just did).
The refs go over to Mike Craigen and briefly explain. Mike is pretty pleased with the explanation, I'm guessing. DUH. Simultaneously, Jerome Bechard is going ballistic! The ref makes a brief appearance at the Columbus bench, but is about to proceed with the penalty shot. Jerome is frantically trying to get them to wait a minute. They ignore him. He's about to climb on the ice. This is like a scene from a movie. A bad movie.
In the final chapter of Travesty on Ice, Andrew stops Berkley Scott's initial shot. The puck goes off the butt end of Andrew's stick and dribbles over the goal line. Knoxville 4, Columbus 3.
Jerome, by this time, has been escorted off the ice. He's given a delay of game penalty (is that what pitching a major fit gets you?). The final six seconds tick off the clock and the game ends.
The Snakes are out of their minds, both angry and frustrated. It was a little disconcerting to see a couple of them approach the refs angrily after the game. Thankfully, nothing else happened. Perhaps they heard me hollering at them from my sofa. "Ya'all get off the ice...DON"T TOUCH HIM!!!" lol
There's some confusion about this alleged rule which awarded the penalty shot. I've tried to wade through the SPHL rule book and found one that governed knocking the net off during a breakaway, which doesn't fit. I've texted commish Jim Combs asking for the rule number but haven't heard back yet.
I imagine Jim's had a call from Jerome already and either he or Mark Faucette is in communication with the refs. What good does that do the Snakes now?
I'll close with the quote of the night from Vee: This was a game decided by a ref's call.
It certainly was.