CAMERON: Officiating raises a lot of eyebrows at Atlantics

Christopher Cameron
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Christopher Cameron

Officiating over the weekend at major midget Atlantics didn’t really get a positive review.

Spectators, players and teams were a little upset over how things went throughout the weekend. It wasn’t so much the calls being made – although that was the case sometimes – it was the ones that weren’t.

One of the standout calls of the weekend came during Sunday’s final when it appeared Saint John Vitos forward Jean-Michel Leblanc had tied the game 5-5 with the Halifax McDonalds. It was initially called a goal, but after a lengthy discussion they took it back.

Unfortunately this came with 3:51 left in regulation and the Vitos were unable to pot another goal as Halifax punched their ticket to the Telus Cup in Moose Jaw, Sask. from April 21-27.

Personally I was behind the play, so all I saw was Leblanc going towards the net, but the official on the goal-line called it a good goal. It was someone behind the play that helped call it back. That is where the issue comes. It would be like the second-base umpire in baseball calling someone out at home plate – it just doesn’t make sense.

Alas, that’s just the way it is sometimes in sport. We’re all human.

After the game, there were infuriated people off the ice that I’m sure would’ve loved to tell the referees what they thought with words that shouldn’t be printed, but when Leblanc had the chance to comment he didn’t.

Although there were a few other calls made that raised eyebrows, a few non-calls midway through the Weeks Major Midgets game against Halifax did the same. Connor MacLaughlin took two high hits directly in front of an official, the first of which caused him to stay down for roughly 30 seconds.

When he got back up he didn’t go looking for an official or a penalty. He simply got back into the play. Other players may have gone looking for the call, but he battled through it.

In a similar situation to Leblanc, he didn’t comment on the hits with regards to them being a penalty, simply that he just had to fight to get back into the play.

There seems to be a problem here. I understand the blurb the timekeeper reads before the game about the officials having the training and knowledge to do their job and the coaches are teaching the skills of the game to these players, but what that says to me is that we’re to trust these four men or women.

So, when MacLaughlin got hit in the head, that trust was shaken. Two officials on the ice, one five feet away and there was no call. Both he and his coaches trust the officials to protect the players on the ice.

Leblanc may have said it best, although most would not be so calm about it.

“It was the referee’s decision (calling his goal off) and they don’t always make the best decision, but they’re human,” he said in a report by the Telegraph-Journal.

Now there are two sides to the coin.

One is angry fans, parents or players yelling at these officials, which in some ways could be considered bullying. The other is that the officials very rarely have to answer for a call that is made or not made. I’ve tried to ask officials about calls over the years, but get the same response – they can’t or won’t comment.

Yes, there are debriefs with head officials after games, as there was Sunday following the Atlantic Major Midget Hockey Championship final, but that’s where the discussion ends. There is rarely, if anything more, than what happens in those closed door meetings.

For instance, Sunday night in the Weeks Crushers game against the Truro Bearcats, the third goal given to the Bearcats never actually went past the goal-line. On the ice the official said it went in the net and came instantly back out.

Fans were irate, as were the Crushers players and staff. There was a lot of passion being shown by the spectators that night as it was, but that goal took things to another level.

Afterwards the officials took their exit quietly out of the facility, but didn’t have to answer for their decision on the ice. People are wrong from time-to-time and that’s fine because we’re all human, but when 10 Crusher 20-year-olds are left with a bad taste in their mouths knowing that helped end their season, it doesn’t help that nobody answers for their decision.

The system will never be perfect at this level, but there should to be a discussion about how it could work better. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened and it won’t be the last.

Both sides have their points.

The last thing a young official needs when he’s refereeing a atom or bantam game is a screaming parent telling him he’s a f---ing idiot and needs to open his eyes. You won’t have any officials in a few years if all the up and coming ones are scared off. In that regard, I don’t believe an official learning the game should have to answer to an upset parent.

That said, when a junior A team’s season or midget Atlantic championship has an official's call play a part in the outcome of it, there should be more said than what is behind a closed door.

 

Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached at christopher.cameron@ngnews.caor on Twitter @NGNewsChris. His column runs weekly on Wednesdays.

Organizations: Telus, Telegraph-Journal

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Sask.

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Recent comments

  • TheBigShow
    April 10, 2014 - 09:11

    How ironic, some of the worse reffing I have ever witnessed as a player, coach and spectator have been in Saint John and Halifax. If the game were played in Saint John you can guarantee Saint John would have won based on some ridiculous calls and non calls.

  • One sided?
    April 09, 2014 - 17:33

    Pretty one sided article. What about the head shot to the Macs player that didn't get a call. The dirty hit in the PEI/Pictou game. Maybe talk to the Saint John parent who had a clear view of the net and said it was kicked in as soon as it crossed the line. Penalties were missed, others were called that shouldn't have been....mistakes happen, but it wasn't just in the Macs games and it wasn't always in favour of the Macs. You make it sound like the only reason they went 5-0 in the tournament was because of the reffing. Let the boys enjoy being Atlantic Champs instead of tainting it, they deserve it.

  • The Hamburgler
    April 09, 2014 - 00:11

    Wow Chris, once again spot on with your analysis, clear to see the amount of hockey knowledge you have. As for Atlantic's the best team won every game in that tournament. Halifax was a far better team than New Brunswick and every other team in the tournament. Although the referees make calls during the game the bottom line is the team that should have won, won. Lets talk about the Crushers? They were lucky to be in game 4. Games 1-3 we complete domination by Truro and you want to write about a single call in game 4? Lets talk about the horrid coaching, or soft play by the Crushers. Why didn't Truro take penalties? Cause of biased reffing? No, they didn't complain once and focused on the game. It started from the level headed coaching and filtered down to the players. I really don't even want to comment on you looking for accountability, every angry fan yelling the referee's name on the ice isn't enough? Would really love to hear how you want to hold the refs accountable. Maybe throw tomatoes at them in the village square? Get a grip, it's easy to blame someone else for the loss rather than the players isn't it.

    • Hockey Fan
      April 09, 2014 - 18:26

      OH PLEASE !!!! Talk about needing to get a grip !!! I have been at enough games to know how the fans, coaches, team players etc. behave when calls are not made in the way they like. We are all guilty of that. How rude to say that Halifax is better than any of those teams that played in the Atlantics, and to say otherwise just shows what type of person you would sitting in the stands. Chris wasn't just blaming the refs, he gave accounts on all sides. If you wouldn't mind reading the article again. Also, am I to believe that you agree with every call the refs have ever made when you sit and watch your "dream" team? This is where the problem lies. Chris was just giving his opinion, as he supports his local hockey teams. He didn't say one bad word about any team being better than anyone else. I think some teams were surprised at the how well the weeks played and it wasn't the run away games that some expected. (End scores with only one goal in the difference). How awesome is that !!!! Either way I can say that the guys despite some calls, played with heart and as a team. Every player played in a way that made their fans proud. Maybe you should re think your post. Oh and by the way..... You know what they say....If you don't have something nice to say shut to ..... up !!!!!

    • Hockey Fan
      April 09, 2014 - 18:37

      OH PLEASE !!!! Talk about needing to get a grip !!! I have been at enough games to know how the fans, coaches, team players etc. behave when calls are not made in the way they like. We are all guilty of that. How rude to say that Halifax is better than any of those teams that played in the Atlantics, and to say otherwise just shows what type of person you would sitting in the stands. Chris wasn't just blaming the refs, he gave accounts on all sides. If you wouldn't mind reading the article again. Also, am I to believe that you agree with every call the refs have ever made when you sit and watch your "dream" team? This is where the problem lies. Chris was just giving his opinion, as he supports his local hockey teams. He didn't say one bad word about any team being better than anyone else. I think some teams were surprised at the how well the weeks played and it wasn't the run away games that some expected. (End scores with only one goal in the difference). How awesome is that !!!! Either way I can say that the guys despite some calls, played with heart and as a team. Every player played in a way that made their fans proud. Maybe you should re think your post. Oh and by the way..... You know what they say....If you don't have something nice to say ...........

    • Tommie Fan
      April 09, 2014 - 20:17

      Halifax was not a better them then NB . I think they were both evenly matched . That game on Sunday was a very good game, with a potential of the outcome being different. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net so. It could have been right call. Perhaps they should have let the goal stand and have the teams decide the outcome.

    • Scott G
      April 09, 2014 - 22:04

      Wooooo guys I watched this game- Halifax was not far better the NB. As a matter of fact, nb outshot Ns and 5-5 Halifax had 12 shots. The issue I have with all this being a former official at a high level myself is if they have a telecast available and it is 2014 - let's use the technology these days. Let's let the officials get the calls correct? I'm sure the two officials would have preferred to see the play as a replay and then make the proper call. .... Especially for a trip to a national.

  • JTM
    April 08, 2014 - 22:27

    Sore loser?