Why it’s a must to follow the rule book

Saturday’s Central Collegiate Hockey Association conference championship was nothing close to ordinary.

The Minnesota State men’s hockey team had won the championship and the beloved Mason Cup, but the call on the ice that sophomore forward Josh Groll’s goal to win the game in overtime was reversed over an hour after the original game finished. 

The decision the CCHA and its commissioner Don Lucia made to reverse the call and make the two teams re-play the remainder of the overtime period will go down in history as one of the most controversial moments in the history of college sports. 

It is undeniably true that the game should not have been finished the way it did, and there were several ways it should have gone. 

Stated by rule 82.1 on Game and Intermission Timing, “Officials’ duties and powers continue during intermissions and until all players have left the ice and entered the dressing room at the conclusion of the game.” 

This means officials have their duty to officiate and correctly call the game until and only until the players enter their locker rooms after the conclusion of the game.

The officials had their chance to reverse the call of the goal after it was scored, since all goals are reviewed for correctness, but they chose to confirm the goal entered the net legally. Players celebrated, were awarded the Mason Cup, and returned to their locker rooms before the decision to reverse the call was made. So was the decision made by the CCHA or the officials?

From the CCHA’s statement regarding the switch, it sounds like the CCHA made the decision to finish the contest once more, but had originally instantly reviewed the goal and ruled the play as a good goal. 

Lucia stated postgame that the call to reverse the goal was not what the CCHA wanted and acknowledged it’s not what anyone wanted. He explained the call was made because the CCHA did not want to end someone’s career on a goal that should not have counted. 

Ethically, the CCHA commissioner has a point, but what about following the rule book?

By rule 93.6, “Any potential goal requiring video review must be reviewed prior to or during the next stoppage of play. No goal may be awarded (or disallowed) as a result of video review once the puck has been dropped and play has resumed.” 

Take it as you will, but the “Allowable Time for Review” rule should be clarified. By the sounds of the rule, the game should have ended for good once the officials confirmed the call on the ice of the original good goal call. 

Should the NCAA have stepped in and overruled the CCHA based on the rule book? Probably, but in the end, it did not matter as senior defenseman Jack McNeely scored to win the game for Minnesota State once again.

Header Photo: After what the Mavs thought was a win, CCHA officials can be seen reviewing the goal in question before having the players return to the ice. (Mansoor Ahmad/The Reporter)

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