Upon further review, video goal judge good call

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

You can't get any better than 100 per cent. It was the debut of the video goal judge in the OHL playoffs Thursday. All goals in the conference and league finals will be automatically reviewed by a league official in Toronto as the backup referee sits in the timer's box to relay the information to the on-ice referee.

In the Kitchener-London series, two goals proved contentious. Danny Fritsche opened the scoring for the Knights when he dived to whack a loose puck into the net. Fritsche crashed into the net, dislodging it.

Referee Mark Hicks called it a goal, but it went to replay before it was confirmed.

In the third period, Craig Voakes of the Rangers put the puck into the roof of the net. The play was blown dead and Hicks pointed to the faceoff circle. Without a video goal judge, there would have been no goal.

It went to review in Toronto and, after a delay, video judge Jim Lever, a former referee, ruled it a goal.

Two for two.

"Sometimes the ref gets blocked out, so it was what, two goals where they had to go to replay?" Knights coach Dale Hunter said. "It worked out against us on one, but I think it's a good idea."

There were no video judge incidents in the Peterborough Petes-Ottawa 67's game.

The implementation of the video goal judge created concerns about the flow of the game and whether it showed a lack of confidence in the on-ice officials.

Most officials would welcome a video goal judge all season because it not only guarantees the right call is made, it takes the pressure off them. As for reviewing all goals, whether contentious or not . . .

"From our standpoint, the players had not even had a chance to line up by the time the goal was reviewed," said Ted Baker, OHL director of hockey operations and referee-in-chief. "The way it works, as soon as the puck goes in, the phone call goes through (to Toronto). It's immediate. 'Good goal.' It's done and we're on our way again. It's the comfort factor in knowing the right call has been made."

The reason not all goals are reviewed during the regular season is because not all games are televised.

There is only one video goal judge, even if there are two games on the same night. If the teams score at the same time and the backup referees call, do they get a busy signal? Does one have to wait for one call to be reviewed before the other is looked at?

"There's more than just one guy in the room," Baker said. "If there should be a coincidental situation, there's a backup official, a backup league representative that would satisfy the other game along with two technicians monitoring each game."

At the Knights opener, Rogers Television, which broadcast the game, had trouble with both its video replay machines. Spectators at the John Labatt Centre who were hoping to see replays on the giant screen were more often than not treated to a revolving Knights head on the screen.

The league also has that potential problem solved.

"We tape as the game is running and took it from the personal video recorder," Baker said. "We can run slow motion, super-slow motion. We can look at the replay as the game is still going on. By the time the play is over, we know whether it was a goal or not."

As Hunter says, "all you want to do is make sure it's the right call. The video doesn't lie. You get the right call."

It makes the irritation and possible delays well worth it.


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