Small joys

Last season, in our rec hockey league, we had something of a controversy.

Because there are many games per night to get through, each has to be strictly scheduled. Win, lose, or tie, the next game has to go off on time; run too far behind and the last game won’t finish until well after midnight and nobody will be fit to get up in the morning to go to their jobs.

This leads to our league doing things in reverse from the pros in one important fashion. NHL regular-season games that are tied after overtime go to a shootout. Playoff games just have overtime after overtime until someone finally scores. (Why the important games have real hockey endings while the regular season settles for gimmickry is beyond me.) In our league, however, we have no time to run a shootout that might take an extra ten minutes, so the regular-season games can end tied. BUT ties aren’t an option in the playoffs, so those do go to shootouts, and in the most recent one, there was a key goal scored that probably shouldn’t have counted.

The goalie poke-checked the shooter on this attempt, and got a piece of it, but the ball* kept on towards the goal line. The shooter, seeing that it was going to roll wide, shot it in himself after the poke. The ref let the goal stand despite everyone saying “Wait, what??”

* Ball because this is dek hockey (the official spelling has no C) and we’re all on foot and this is very ghetto but bear with me.

Being that sort of guy, I carry a pdf of the NHL rulebook* around on a thumb drive, and though I wasn’t reffing this one, it came in handy to look up the rule governing valid penalty shots/shootout attempts. (You can read along here.) The two keys: first, the puck (or ball) must stay in motion towards the goal line unless it’s a spin-o-rama move, in which case the move must be made in a continuous motion. Second, no goal can be scored on a rebound – if it hits the goalie, it has to carry in under it’s own momentum or else the attempt is over.

* Except for specific exceptions, we try to follow the NHL rules. I mean, a crosscheck is a crosscheck – why reinvent the wheel?

Our commish decided that “rebound” presupposes “shot” and that a poke-check is not considered a shot, therefore the goal should count because the ball didn’t deflect back the way it came, only changing direction from side-to-side. My thought was that the shooter can’t touch it again after it hits the goalie, because this isn’t continuous motion. I suspect he did so in order to have a reason not to overturn the call; but he’s stuck to it ever since.  So I wrote Kerry Fraser’s “C’mon Ref!” column at TSN to get a ruling.

Now, indirectly, I have my answer, thanks to Alex Burrows’ bizarre non-o-rama move against Jon Quick and the LA Kings. Fraser never replied to me (his column is specifically about rulings involving things seen in NHL games), but this section of a recent column of his holds the solution:

… Contact by the goalie with the puck would be deemed a save.

Remember, a legal goal cannot be scored on a rebound so unless the puck slid past the goalkeeper and into the net without further contact by the shooter this attempt would be ruled complete by the referee.

So that goal from our house league should have been waived off, and if it happens on my watch, it will be, and I will have backup. Thanks ref!

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