Fraser: Should goaltender interference have been called?

Kerry Fraser

4/26/2012 3:54:27 PM

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Hi Kerry,

Just a quick question for you: What's your interpretation on the contact between Mike Knuble and Tim Thomas prior to Joel Ward's series-clinching goal in overtime Wednesday evening?  It appeared to me, at the very least, to be incidental contact. I haven't heard one commentator even imply there was any contact, but I wonder how the Boston media is seeing this today. 

I know the NHL has a history of not calling back OT goals, but in the interest of getting the call right, shouldn't they start?  I'm also beginning to believe that replays need to be used on all scoring plays, but reviewed by the official on the ice with help from the 'war room'.  Thanks for your time!

Derek Crowell,  Sault Ste. Marie, ON


Tim Thomas took the high road in his postgame comments after being interfered with (video) by Mike Knuble on the winning goal in OT. Thomas was much more controlled than Henrik Lundqvist following Ottawa's second goal scored late in game 6 when the Ranger goalie was skewered by Chris Neil in his goal crease. Tim made the point that he was interfered with by Knuble and couldn't see the rebound shot from Joel Ward that snuck past him. Post game reactions aside the same end result occurred when the goals from both games were allowed to stand following violation of Rule 69 - Interference on the Goalkeeper!

It was just two days ago that I wrote about my greatest fear in these playoffs following the goal that was allowed to stand following Chris Neil's interference on Henrik Lundqvist. I quote, "While the missed goalie interference didn't overtly affect the outcome of the game (other than to cause tremendous upset to Henrik perhaps) my greatest fear has once again been exposed. The potential to end a game, a series and even the Stanley Cup presented through an obvious error on this most difficult call to make for the on-ice officials has become one game and one goal closer to reality."

Last night in Boston reality struck when the series ended with a Game 7 overtime goal that was manufactured by Mike Knuble in another example of goalkeeper interference. After taking a backhand shot from close in that Tim Thomas saved Knuble continued on his path entering deep into the goal crease and made sufficient physical contact with the Bruins goalie to knock him off his set position and back toward the goal line. The undetected rebound was shot past Thomas as he attempted to pull his head out of Knuble's midsection and right arm.

It would defy logic to maintain that rule 69, as it is written, was not sufficiently violated for the referee to disallow this goal.

Rule 69.1 — "Interference on the Goalkeeper...Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease.

"The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed."

Mike Knuble was not pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with Thomas. It matters not if the contact on Thomas by Knuble was deemed to be deliberate or incidental other than a minor penalty that might result. What matters most is that all the elements of rule 69.1 were violated and the goal should have been waved off.

Decisions of this magnitude are never popular but sometimes they just have to be made.

Derek, thank you for endorsing my on-going plea that video review be implemented and conducted by the on-ice referee whenever a puck enters the net as a result of contact with the goalie. It takes much less courage to make the call after looking at a video review and the right call will ultimately be made.

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