Sunday, March 11, 2007

Credit to the Officials

Of all the stories in the high school tournament this season, one that I never heard was about the officials. Yes, there was the occasional call or two that a coach wasn't pleased with, but for the most part, I thought the officiating was excellent.

It's been my experience that officiating at the high school level can be pretty hit or miss, but credit the MSHSL for finding the top guys for this tournament. I can't think of any games that were really affected by the officials, which is a good thing. They let the players decide the game. Probably the best call I saw came in the Rochester Century/Hill-Murray game. That game may have never went to overtime had it not been for Century's goal to tie the game at 4 early in the third period. There was a scramble in front of the Hill net, and while most officials probably would have blown the play dead, the official was in perfect position and was able to see that the puck was still laying in the crease uncovered. Century was able to score and tie the game, helping them to the win.

Of course it also helped that the teams made the officials' job easier. At the beginning of this season, the MSHSL adopted USA Hockey's new rules calling for stricter enforcement of the rules, and there was a lot of complaining around the state about how many penalties were being called. But by the end of the season, teams had adjusted and I thought the style of play was just fantastic. The game was fast, wide open and exciting. I'd love to see college hockey become more like that.