Sunday, 14 April 2019

Robbed

The image to the left should have been the lede photo for most of the stories being published about the 2019 IIHF Women's World Hockey Championship, but Petra Nieminen's goal in overtime was overturned by the IIHF in one of the most unbelievable video reviews that has ever occurred in any league. To say that the off-ice officials have zero knowledge of the rule book they're supposed to know would be unfair. It's fairly clear that they have a concept of the rules, but the application of those rules seems to be the difficult part for these officials. Whatever the case, the IIHF proved to be the world's greatest crime organization as they straight-up robbed Finland of the gold medals they rightly deserve.

Before we get too deep into this rant of the clown show known as the IIHF, let's take a look at the goal in question. Remember that this goal was ruled a good goal on the ice by the officials.


That's simply baffling. First, how does it take that long to determine that there was interference if interference actually occurred? Secondly, did the on-ice official have a chance to review the video evidence that justified the call of interference? If not, how does the off-ice video official who made the decision justify the call of interference? Finally, on what rule is this call being overturned if this truly is interference?

The IIHF offered no explanation today, but I assume there will be some sort of flimsy, ridiculous justification for this call that makes no sense, but here are the IIHF rules that define goaltender interference.
Note the rule highlighted above because, in my view, that's the rule that should be applied in this situation based on the video evidence. There is no way that that Jenni Hiirikoski's effort on the puck was anything but incidental as the puck was loose in front of Alex Rigsby and she went to make a play on it as both players attempted to gain possession of the puck. As per the rule, the goal should count.

Instead, the players are subjected to an eternity of time while the review is going on. Why does it take so long for this to be decided? I'll give the official in the image to the right the benefit of the doubt if she is making a case for no interference as the call on the ice, by the letter of the rule, was correct. I wouldn't want my call overturned at that point without there being some sort of conclusive, undeniable proof that Hiirikoski committed some sort of interference outside of trying to play a loose puck. Instead, the official allowed this to happen, and the celebration by Team Finland and the Finnish fans was short-lived.

What a load of crap.

Look, I don't hold any ill will towards the Americans. Head coach Bob Corkum did what any coach would do on that play and challenged it for goaltender interference. I get that, and I respect that Corkum was looking out for his team and for Alex Rigsby. The fact that they were able to regroup, get to the shootout, and win the tournament in the skills competition proves that Corkum's call was the right one even if the decision by the IIHF was egregiously wrong.

What bothers me is that the IIHF will never admit that it got this call wrong by any means despite all the evidence suggesting otherwise. It cost Finland their greatest victory and the corresponding celebration of that achievement, and it was hard to watch the Finnish women crying after the game after they thought they had conquered the world just minutes prior. And as much as people want to blame the two on-ice officials in Nicole Hertrich and Lacey Senuk, this decision to call Hiirikoski's attempt to play the loose puck as interference is entirely on the off-ice video official whose name will never be released by the IIHF.

There are lists of the greatest robberies in history. They include the Gardner Museum Robbery, St├ęphane Breitwieser's list of robberies, and the Leviev diamond heist. I'm going to go ahead and add the IIHF's robbery of Finland's gold medals today to the list because that heist is one that will never see justice.

Congratulations to Finland on a heckuva tournament. While I know the sting of today's results won't go away quickly, the world saw that the Naisleijonat are indeed champions on this Sunday in April.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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