The Home Stretch
A penalty-filled hockey game will often result in fans or coaches screaming at the referee to “let them play” – sometimes letting them play is worse than making a large number of calls.
The most recent instance of this was Saturday’s Game 6 between the Weeks Major Midgets and Newbridge Gladiators. There were definitely penalties called in the game, with six power plays for Newbridge and four for Weeks, but it was the third period where the things got out slightly of hand.
With Weeks trailing 2-1 heading into the third it appeared the referees had put their whistles away for most of the period. There were two penalties that resulted in power plays for each team in the period, with Weeks captain Lane Cormier also receiving a 10 minute misconduct, which from what I saw, was him simply voicing disapproval for the lack of penalties being called.
There were two high hits on forwards Mark Vokey and Blair Dewtie that went uncalled, which luckily didn’t lead to an injury, but in situations like this where the referee is letting things go it tends to escalate until someone does in fact get hurt.
This isn’t to say that things shouldn’t have been called against Weeks because there’s always the odd trip or hook that could be called, which in Saturday’s case could’ve happened against either team, but that was fine as both teams weren’t getting called. It’s when players keep pushing the window to see what will be called that things get out of hand and they definitely did on Saturday.
Going back a few days prior to Thursday’s game between the Weeks Crushers and Yarmouth Mariners, which was also a 2-1 game after two periods, there were only five penalties the entire game. That’s definitely not a lot for a junior A game, which seemed to be fine as it was a good, hard-fought game by both teams.
Unfortunately things went uncalled again and the Crushers captain Nick Parker took a high stick in front of the Mariners net, which knocked out four teeth. Parker took it in stride and on Saturday said he thought it “looked pretty cool” and “didn’t hurt that much.” Although Parker wasn’t overly concerned about the lack of call, it was definitely a penalty that needs to be called even when you’re letting the teams play and trying not to impact the game by calling a penalty.
To add to that, with just over two minutes left in the game I looked at someone standing next to me and said that the Crushers would take a penalty with 1:30 remaining in the game after a good period of letting the two teams play.
I was a little off, but the referees could’ve affected the outcome of the game calling a slashing penalty on Mitchell Shewfelt with 36 seconds remaining in the third.
They are human just like everyone else and they’re obviously under a magnifying glass each game to make calls, but putting the whistle away can sometimes be a good thing and a bad thing.
Like I said, Thursday night between the Crushers and Mariners there were obviously some slashes and extra shots that weren’t being called, but it was going both ways. When Parker took the high stick it was likely the most obvious call up until that point in the third, but the referee was likely hoping to not affect the outcome of the game and let it go.
Some things need to be left alone when you have two teams playing a good, competitive game, but when there’s an obvious call that needs to be made, it should be.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter @NGNewsChris. His column runs weekly on Wednesdays.