The Great Olympic Hockey Whine by Russia
In most American sports, if you're jobbed by a referee or umpire, the post game comments by the team that was victimized rarely include overt criticism of the officials.
That's because the leagues frown on such commentary, usually slapping the offender with a hefty fine.
Russian hockey players and coaches would have done well to imitate their American counterparts and keep their mouths shut about a controversial "no-goal" call by the American referee with 5 minutes to go in the third and final period and the score tied.
"The referee made a mistake," said Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov following the Russians 3-2 loss to the Americans in a preliminary round contest.
"Of course, it would have been more effective to have a different judge."
T.J. Oshie scored four times in the shootout after a roller-coaster contest in front of a raucous crowd of 11,678 at the Bolshoi Ice Dome.
Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin insisted the goal should have counted and said that USA goaltender Jonathan Quick deserved a penalty for intentionally dislodging it.
"It was definitely a goal. The goalie touched the net so that the net moved," Ovechkin said. "The referee had to see it. He should have given him two minutes."
With the score tied 2-2, the Russians appeared to have scored the go-ahead goal with just under five minutes left in the third on a shot from the point by Fyodor Tyutin.
But Meier and his Swedish counterpart Marcus Vinnerborg disallowed the goal, apparently because the net had come off its base.
Bilyaletdinov said it is disappointing to have a call like this go against them on their home soil in the Winter Olympics.
"If this is a mistake of the referee there are people that will find it. It is very sad the referee didn't count it," he said.
Asked about whether there should be more neutral referees in the tournament, Bilyaletdinov said, "We don't appoint the referees, a board of referees appoints them, so we can only take the situation as a given."
Quick denied moving the net and said one of the Russian players might have done it.
"I didn't even know I did it," Quick said. "I don't know if it happened before the goal went in or after because a guy skated through the crease after the goal and I don't know if he bumped it."
Later, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) backed the officials' decision.
"Upon reviewing the goal, the net had clearly been displaced prior to the puck going into the net," said an IIHF statement.
"The IIHF referee supervisor Konstantin Komissarov confirmed that the ruling made by referees Brad Meier and Markus Vinnerborg was the correct call and that the proper procedure had been followed with regards to the video review."
Sore losers? Absolutely. There's no way to tell if the US goalie knocked the net from its pegs intentionally, but it was clearly off its moorings before the goal was scored. Since the refs are not mind readers, they could only proceed with what the replay clearly showed.
It's a shame that such a great game was marred by the Russian's attempt to take some of the glory of the victory away from the Americans by whining about a referee's call.