MISSISSAUGA - If players are going to be held to a higher standard at the Memorial Cup, the same principle must apply to the officials.
The on-ice crew of referees Matt Kirk and Scott Ferguson and linesmen Jesse Wilmot and Matt Traub on Friday night simply did not do their jobs at a level that is expected at the top major-junior championship tournament in the country.
The Saint John Sea Dogs, in a 4-3 victory against the Mississauga St. Michaelís Majors, scored their winning goal on a play when they were offside and there were several other questionable calls on both sides. Itís just one game, but the Memorial Cup and its participants deserve better.
ďItís not fun to come to a tournament like this and have the outcome we did because of the officiating,Ē Majors forward Justin Shugg said. ďIf you canít make the right calls in this tournament, you should not be reffing. Thatís it.Ē
Shugg put himself in danger of being fined by off-ice officials, but who can argue with him? Heís right.
Majors coach and general manager Dave Cameron concurred that Sea Dogs forward Zack Phillips was offside, seconds before Nathan Beaulieu scored the winner eight minutes into the third period.
ďThe discouraging thing about that one is that mistakes happen,Ē Cameron said. ďThe tough part is the guy was offside right there (near the linesman).Ē
The Majors now are in a spot of trouble. They canít afford to lose their next game on Sunday against the Kootenay Ice. Going 0-2 at the Memorial Cup is a hole from which most teams never escape.
From the hash marks
Jonathan Huberdeau is ranked No. 3 among North American skaters by central scouting for the NHL entry draft next month and the Sea Dogs centre gave a few indications why he should be a top pick. The 6-foot-1, 171-pounder has plenty of room for physical growth, but he had little trouble fighting for the puck. Huberdeau, who had 105 points during the regular season (43 goals and 62 assists), kept going to the net and tipped a shot behind J.P. Anderson for a goal in the first period ... Huberdeau switched to an English-language high school this year but not because he wanted to improve his communication prior to being drafted. ďWith French, you canít do anything (outside Quebec),Ē Huberdeau said. ďIf you want to work somewhere you have to speak English.Ē ... The Majors couldnít convert in the third period when they had a two-man advantage for one minute seven seconds. Huberdeau put his team down two men with a bad tripping penalty, but the Majors got just one shot on goalie Jacob DeSerres. Penalty killers Stephen MacAulay, Pierre Durepos and Simon Despres didnít give the Majors much penetration ... Shugg is a leader for the Majors, but taking one penalty in the third just 18 seconds after he had served another was inexcusable. Worse, the Sea Dogs got the goal from Beaulieu as Shugg sat in the box ... Cameron wasnít pleased with the suggestion earlier Friday that his team could be underdogs in this tournament. ďI have never mentioned underdog, overdog or in-between dog,Ē Cameron said. ďIf you play to the top of your game and get beat, you respect the opposition. And thatís how it is. The underdog, overdog and in-between dog is created by the media.Ē We see the point, but weíre not sure what overdogs and in-between dogs are ... The Sea Dogs were 10-0 on the road during the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
There were a few times when Majors goalie J.P. Anderson was shaky with the puck, but DeSerres was the opposite. DeSerres, who lost in the Memorial Cup final last year with the Brandon Wheat Kings, got a pad on a Joseph Cramarossa chance in the second period, one of his best saves ... Why were at least two Sea Dogsí names spelled incorrectly on the centre-ice video board during pre-game player introductions? It might seem like a small thing, but itís not. Itís bush league. We thought Don Cherry didnít work here anymore ... Itís old news to knock a less-than-full Hershey Centre, but it happened again. When the host team is playing on the opening night of the tournament, and the rink, which holds approximately 5,500 for hockey, is not packed to the rafters, thatís not good. Gouging fans with exorbitant ticket prices in a market where the support is not great? Dumb. Attendance was listed as 5,429 ... Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, who spent the final nine seasons of his NHL career in a Winnipeg Jets uniform, was at the game. Carlyle answered with a polite ĎNo commentí when he was asked about the seemingly imminent return of the NHL (in the form of the Atlanta Thrashers) to Winnipeg. Carlyle indicated only that his cellphone has been Ďringing off the hook.í ... Saint Johnís Steve Anthony, taken 187th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2009, has signed with the Stanley Cup contenders.