The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 29, 2014

Frederick column: Bad calls will happen; deal with it


The Mankato Free Press

---- — If you’re wondering how to deal with the no-calls (holding and offsides) at the end of regulation of Game 5 between the Wild and Avalanche on Saturday night, read the words of former Minnesota State defenseman Chad Brownlee:

“That’s the game of hockey. We make mistakes, and so do the refs. They’re human, too. It happened. It’s an emotional game.

“Things like that are going to happen. How you deal with it shows what kind of hockey player you are.”

Since this column is being written prior to Monday night’s Game 6, I can’t be sure how the Wild dealt with the plays that led to Colorado’s late game-tying goal and eventual overtime victory in Denver.

But I have seen how the fans have handled it so far.

It’s tough to see your favorite team give up a lead and lose a game because of what you perceive to be a missed or wrong call by the officials.

Vikings fans are still seething, nearly 40 years later, about Drew Pearson’s supposed push-off that allowed him to catch the NFL’s original Hail Mary from Roger Staubach in the 1975 playoffs.

Packers fans won’t soon forget the Fail Mary that took place in Seattle two seasons ago when replacement refs were in charge.

It sure looked like the Wild’s Charlie Coyle was held or interfered with — perhaps mugged would be the appropriate term — as he tried to chase down a loose puck and score an empty-net goal in Saturday’s final minutes. And it sure looked like Paul Stastny was offsides on the rush that led to the Avs’ game-tying goal.

“That’s the way it goes. … Tough luck,” Brownlee said seven years ago.

That was in reference to the worst non-call I can remember from a Minnesota State hockey game.

It took place in Madison, Wis., and Wisconsin had sent the puck deep into the MSU end. Brownlee, a swift-skating defenseman, impressively won a race to the puck against the Badgers’ Jack Skille.

As Brownlee gathered the puck, Skille put his stick between Brownlee’s skates and tripped him. Then Skille grabbed the puck and flipped a backhander over the shoulder of goalie Mike Zacharias for a goal.

How anyone in the Kohl Center that night didn’t see the play is beyond perplexing. But, somehow, referee Marco Hunt (these were still the one-referee days) missed it or didn’t think it was penalty.

Same thing Saturday.

Now some might say, with just minutes remaining in a one-goal game, that the players should decide the outcome of the game.

I’ve never subscribed to that mantra.

That’s fine if the playing field is level, if both teams are playing the same game. But when one team decides to start playing football while the other team’s playing hockey, then there’s a problem. It can’t turn into anarchy.

But if the referees are going to swallow their whistles (or simply make bad calls or no-calls) then everyone else — players, coaches, fans — has to swallow their pride.

It’s all about how you deal with it.

I think Brownlee may have dealt with it best.

Shane Frederick is a Free Press staff writer. Read his blog at mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @puckato.