Because playoff hockey's overtime is truly sudden death, any goal scored after the third period is truly a walk-off, a golden goal, an instant win—or is it?
|Toronto reacts to the goal (News services/Rene Johnston)|
So when the AHL affair came to an abrupt end nearly halfway through the OT period, it was fitting that Scrivens had left the crease to play a dumped puck along the quad boards. Unfortunately, that dumped puck took the oddest of caroms off the glass and rebounded between the pipes for the game-winner.
Or an apparent game-winner that should have been disallowed.
On Friday, the AHL admitted an incorrect rules interpretation led to this decisive overtime winner: "We have spoken with Toronto Marlies management and confirmed that a rules interpretation error by the on-ice officials occurred on the Norfolk Admirals' overtime goal during Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals."
At issue was AHL Rule 83.4—equivalent to NHL Rule 83.4—which is titled "Disallowed Goal." According to this rule:
If the puck is shot on goal during a delayed off-side, the play shall be allowed to continue under the normal clearing- the-zone rules. Should the puck, as a result of this shot, enter the defending team’s goal, either directly or off the goalkeeper, a player or an official on the ice, the goal shall be disallowed as the original shot was off-side. The fact that the attacking team may have cleared the zone prior to the puck entering the goal has no bearing on this ruling.Rule 83.3 specifies a delayed off-side as, "a situation where an attacking player has preceded the puck across the attacking blue line, but the defending team is in a position to bring the puck back out of its defending zone."
In the game-winning play in question, Norfolk's Mike Kostka sent the puck from center ice into the right wall as one of his teammates was attempting to clear the attacking zone, allowing the defense to play the puck, a delayed off-side under Rule 83.3.
Unfortunately for Toronto, the board's stanchion caused an odd jounce, richocheting the puck straight into the empty net—yet under Rule 83.4, the goal clearly should not have counted:
The only way an attacking team can score a goal on a delayed off-side situation is if the defending team shoots or puts the puck into their own net without action or contact by the offending team.Because the defense was anticipating the opportunity to play the puck, rather than actually contacting or sticking the dumped disc, that basket biscuit should have been disallowed, even though the offensive player tagged up before the puck entered the net—the delayed off-side still should have negated the goal.
This specific incorrect call decided Game 3 of the AHL Finals, though just imagine if a decisive Stanley Cup playoff game was decided by such an incorrect rules interpretation.
Fortunately, baseball (for instance) has a recourse, whereas hockey does not. AHL By-Laws do not allow final results to be changed based on an incorrect rule interpretation. MLB, on the other hand, has the appeals and protests process.
Under MLB Rule 4.19, a manager may protest a game due to an umpire's "alleged misapplication of the rules." Though all protests must be filed with the umpires prior to the next pitch, play or attempted play, the League specifically allows that "a protest arising on a game-ending play may be filed until 12 noon the following day with the league office."
Had a similar walk-off wrong occured in the World Series, for instance (say, an incorrect ruling of Rule 7.06(a) as opposed to Type B obstruction), the Baseball Office of the Commissioner may have negated the win and ordered both teams to continue play from the point of interruption (e.g., the final play of the contest).