Trail Times Columnist Dave Thompson

Trail Times Columnist Dave Thompson

BCHL officiating called into question

Thompson: B.C. Hockey League needs to have a long look at the quality of officiating it supports

The B.C. Hockey League needs to have a long look at the quality of officiating it supports.

Two instances of egregious misconduct by Wenatchee players were simply ignored Wednesday, both incidents highlighting the belief among knowledgeable hockey folks, and not just around here, that many BCHL officials had such little understanding of how the game should be played that they became referees by default.

The worst of the two incidents was the most dangerous. A Wild player, after an offside whistle stopped everybody but him, wound up and wired a slapshot into a crowded area – among the most dangerous things a player can do in a game. The Trail player struck by the shot, which warranted at least an unsportsmanlike penalty (I would not have thought it an overeach had the officials given out a game misconduct) gave the gross offender a little push – and received the only penalty assessed on the play.

That adds up to stupid, dangerous officiating – no question, no doubt – and was grossly unfair to the Smoke Eater involved.

The other incident was just about disrespect. A Wild player skated into the Smokie crease, long after the puck was held dead by the Smokie goalie, and brake-snowed said goalie. Even in the rough and tumble WHL that is an automatic penalty, to forestall retribution from the goalie’s teammates and, of course, punish the disrespectful action.

No penalty, and offended Smoke Eaters were sternly spoken too, in defiance of all common, and hockey sense.

Such offical action is a detriment to sportsmanlike play, and player safety, and the officials involved should be closely monitored, if not censured, by the league.

Having refereed, I get that the game is fast and busy and an offical is often going to have problems with not seeing everything in real time and sometimes guessing wrong, or being fooled (see Vernon Vipers tactics here). It is why I stopped doing it.

But, the two incidents I just described occurred in relatively slow motion and were observed by all four officials. The resulting decisions, or lack thereof, indicated very poor judgement, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the game as it should be played at all levels.

Good thing the annoyance of knowledgeable Trail hockey folks was a bit tempered by a positive final result, but not a good enough thing that those two calls should not be seriously reviewed.

• Just an update on the disparity between the Interior Division of the BCHL and the other two. As of Thursday morning the Smoke Eaters were in third place in their division. Their results to date would have had them first in either of the other two sections of the league.

It is going to be a long, tough haul into the playoffs, and beyond, for the team in its first full year of the new regime, and, of course, every other club in the Interior.

• Do not let the shot clock fool you about Wednesday’s result. Wenatchee is an offensive machine and aims to outshoot opponents, which they generally do. During the play of Wednesday’s game, there is no doubt the Wild had much more puck possession – but the dangerous chances were about evenly divided – Trail may have actually had more of those.

Good, solid goalkeeping by the Trail keeper, with a couple of dandy stops thrown in. Same could be said the the Wild keeper. In terms of winning the game, the play broke evenly. When the final chips were down late in a nail biter, the Smokies handled the Wild very well.