I turned on KNOX this evening and was disappointed to hear a comment from Red River coach Matt Malm, who was a guest on Let’s Talk Sports.
Malm started out by complimenting Grafton-Park River, calling them deserving champs. Then, he addressed the blown call that led to Grafton-Park River’s game-tying goal.
He said something along the lines of, "If I was on the other side, I couldn’t look at that trophy and think ‘that’s ours.’ It wouldn’t be right."
I appreciate his honesty and candidness, but it seems a little ridiculous.
In every hockey game, there are going to be questionable calls. Sometimes, there will be extremely bad ones, like missing the sixth man on the ice.
If a ref makes a poor call that benefits your team, what are you supposed to do? Quit? Stop playing? Pack up your gear and go home?
No, it’s the officials’ job to call the game. The players just play the game. That’s what the Spoilers did. And they won.
It’s a shame for both teams that this happened. It’s too bad for Red River, which has to wonder "what if?"
But it’s also too bad for Grafton-Park River, because once that goal was allowed, there was nothing the Spoilers could do to earn the state championship in many people’s minds. And that’s wrong.
Who’s to say that the Spoilers wouldn’t have scored anyway? There was plenty of time left — almost eight minutes to be exact.
The Roughriders also had plenty of time left to win the game in regulation. But they didn’t.
They could have won it in the first overtime. But they didn’t.
They could have won it in the second overtime. But they didn’t.
They could have won it in the third overtime. But they didn’t.
Grafton-Park River (Ryan Mohagen specifically) made the play. Red River didn’t. The Spoilers deserve it.
Malm said on the radio show that he told his players that this controversy would come up, and he asked them to take the high road. Judging by the talk around the city and on the internet, that’s not going to happen.
The blown call is worth taking a look at, and it’s worth exploring ways to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.
As for the game itself?
It was a fantastic hockey game. One of the best state championships ever. I hope people remember it for what it was, instead of for what it wasn’t.