December 30, 2005
Horrible stripesGame marred by terrible refereeing
By Terry Jones
VANCOUVER -- The question was who was worse? Team Canada? Or Team Zebra?
"I'm not supposed to say,'' said Dustin Boyd of Winnipeg, indicating the Canadian players had been told to zip their lip on the subject of one of the worst officiating jobs in the history of international hockey - and that's saying something.
"I'll say us,'' said captain Kyle Chipchura of Vimy.
The two coaches involved in Canada's 4-0 win over Norway here last night were unanimous. So were the 16,083 fans in the stands. When the home crowd starts booing the calls to Norway, what more do you need to know?
"The fans here are knowledgeable,'' said Norway coach Anders Blegeberg in the post game press conference.
"It was terrible refereeing. Really embarrassing. Whoever wins the tournament, I hope the referee isn't in the middle. The refereeing these last few days as been terrible.''
Brent Sutter, who went 9-0 as Team Canada coach with the win, started out speechless.
"What do you say. Somebody told me that was the longest game in the history of international hockey. That's a scary thought. It's been a long night. The idea is to make the game more entertaining. That's not entertainment.
"I'm sitting here wondering what's a call and what isn't a call. You don't even dare touch a guy's skate with your stick now.
"You feel for your team. The players aren't sure what's going to happen next. It's not in the hands of the players.
"We have to play a certain way if we're going to have success.''
Russian Rafail Kadyrov called 52 penalties in the game; 21 of them when player frustration over his incompetence erupted after a Norwegian ran Canadian goalie Justin Pogge.
(At one point, Sutter directed a blank-able comment toward Kadyrov that was clearly visible to the most amateur of lip readers.)
The total of was easily a record for a game involving a Canadian team, the two-previous marks being 27 penalties against Sweden in 1992 and Switzerland in 1993.
Fourteen penalties to the two teams in the first period tied a record for games involving Canada.
Canada took 26 of the penalties to break our nation's tourney-record of 18 dating back to a game against Finland against 1979.
If nothing else, Kadyrov couldn't be accused of favouritism, just colossal incompetence which made the job German Frank Awizuz did the night before look competent in comparison.
"Oh, definitely it got to us,'' said Steve Downie. "Penalty after penalty. I'm glad it's over and we can put it behind us.''
But can they put it behind them?
There was a lot of spin doctoring about the team's play.
"Hey, we had 50 shots. We outshot them 50-13. We've given up 45 shots in three games. We're the underdogs. That's fine. But I believe we're a very good team,'' said Sutter.
Still. All those penalties. All those power plays. And four goals. Against Norway.
For the first 35 minutes it looked like a curling game against Pal Trulsen. Or Dordy Nordby. It was 1-0 Canada.
Until David Bolland, Kyle Chipchura and Luc Bourdon scored three goals in a span of 111 seconds late in the second period, the result was in doubt.
Norway is a nation which had previously lost five games to Canada in the tournament with a for-against total of 46-6. It was the same scenario the night before when the Canadians took a 15-0 record with a 106-28 for-against record against Switzerland into the tilt.
The last time Norway was at the World Juniors was 1991 in Saskatoon. They finished last. In the entire history of the event, Norway has a 3-33 record. The Trolls opened this tournament with an 11-2 loss to the USA.
What does all that say about this Canadian club?
Team Zebra has been brutal. Canada hasn't been much better.
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