Bulldogs riding a refereeing roller-coaster

Refereeing hasn't cost Minnesota Duluth any games this season, but it has prompted some questions from coaches, players and fans. The last three weeks in particular, since the start of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association men's schedule, UMD...

Refereeing hasn't cost Minnesota Duluth any games this season, but it has prompted some questions from coaches, players and fans.

The last three weeks in particular, since the start of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association men's schedule, UMD has been part of a refereeing roller-coaster. Inconsistent and indecisive officiating has been spotlighted in series against No. 7-ranked Wisconsin, No. 14 Denver and No. 2 Minnesota, in which five of six games were decided by two goals or less.

WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd said he called UMD coach Scott Sandelin and athletic director Bob Nielson following the series at Wisconsin on Oct. 20-21 to apologize for the work of an officiating crew headed by referee Randy Schmidt.

In UMD's series against Denver on Oct. 27-28 at the DECC, Bill Mason was called in to substitute for referee Marco Hunt, who was ill. A play that appeared offside, leading to Denver's winning goal Saturday, didn't sit well with the UMD faithful.

But those fans were just getting warmed up for referee Don Adam in last Friday's game with Minnesota at the DECC. After UMD winger Bryan McGregor scored a short-handed goal late in the first period, the play was called back and the Bulldogs were assessed a penalty for too many men on the ice. McGregor was ruled to have come on the ice too soon in replacing a teammate going to the bench after serving a penalty. However, a whistle wasn't blown to indicate the penalty.


According to Shepherd, the reversed decision by Adam and assistant referee Tony Lancette was correct, but the process was dragged out too long. Play was stopped for 15 minutes. Minnesota went on to win 3-2.

''The assistant referee made the right call, but the mistake he made was in not blowing the whistle,'' said Shepherd. ''He said he was 100 percent sure on the too many men and the (NCAA) rule book says that the referee may change a decision before play resumes. That should've ended it right there.''

Sandelin and Minnesota coach Don Lucia had numerous emphatic and animated talks with Adam before a decision was made.

Sandelin has done no public finger-pointing the last three weeks and, in fact, called Saturday's game against Minnesota the best-refereed game of the season. But after the Wisconsin series he expressed confusion about the enforcement of the NCAA's point of emphasis to eliminate impeding play. He said players were being coached to play a certain way, and some officials were calling games differently. Video tape examples from the Wisconsin games were sent to Shepherd.

''The Wisconsin series was not a good standard of officiating. There was a lack of calls made,'' said Shepherd.

r The NCAA Rules and Interpretation Guide, in Section 3A, states that ''In case of any dispute, the referee may change (his) decision or that of any other official, provided the change is made before play is renewed. The referee's decision is final; there is no appeal.''

On to Houghton

UMD (2-4-2) heads to Michigan Tech (5-3) for WCHA games Friday and Saturday in Houghton, Mich.


Despite two losses last weekend at Colorado College, the Huskies are off to their best eight-game start in 14 years since going 5-3 to open 1992-93 under coach Bob Mancini. That's the last season Michigan Tech has finished over .500 at 17-15-5. The Huskies have had three coaches since then with Tim Watters, Mike Sertich and Jamie Russell.

Michigan Tech is second in the WCHA in goals allowed in all games at 1.88, aided by sophomore goalies Michael-Lee Teslak and Rob Nolan.

''We have a defensive corps that's much older than we've had and that experience is paying off,'' said Russell, who had no freshman defensemen playing last weekend. ``We don't have a clear No. 1 line or a clear No. 4 line, or any real super stars. We're just solid throughout the lineup. Considering how we've started our seasons lately, this is a real confident start.''

This decade Michigan Tech has started 1-6-1 in 2005-06, 1-6-1 in 2004-05, 2-4-2 in 2003-04, 1-4-3 in 2002-03, 2-5-1 in 2001-02 and 1-6-1 in 2000-01.

The Huskies opened this season by splitting with No. 16 Northern Michigan, sweeping at Vermont and returning home to sweep Alaska Anchorage (last Saturday defending Division I champion Wisconsin lost at Anchorage ).

Colorado College cooled the Huskies off with 4-1 and 2-1 wins.

If UMD has one sore spot from the last three weekends, it's the third period on Saturday. The Bulldogs have been outscored 5-0 against Wisconsin, Denver and Minnesota in those games, leading to three losses 5-2, 4-2 and 3-2.

''I love watching our team when we play with that gritty edge, but when we don't, we're an average team,'' said Sandelin. ''We have to be in the other team's face. This team needs to understand how to play each and every shift, each and every period.''

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