Disputed whistle ends season in Division I quarterfinals
Notre Dame-Fairfield hockey head coach Steve Hetherman won't forget this one for a long, long time.
Because of an inadvertent whistle that nullified the game-winning goal for the Lancers early in the second overtime, Notre Dame couldn't get refocused and lost to Glastonbury 3-2 in the Division I quarterfinals after Tyler MacLean's backhander beat Lancers' goaltender Will Scovil eight minutes into the second OT.
"It looked like we scored. It was an odd-man rush ... the goalie never had control of the puck and then our guy poked it in and then the ref decides that he blew the whistle," Hetherman said. "He waved it off ... after he pointed it (the puck) in. Did you guys hear a whistle? I never heard the whistle? You guys saw what I saw."
What just about everyone saw was Ryan Gawricki -- in a 4-on-4 skating situation -- power down the left side and take a shot that Glastonbury goaltender Kyle Thibodeaux made the initial save on. But what Pettit apparently didn't see was the puck trickle through Thibodeaux's pads, where Gawricki banged it home at the 3:54 mark, setting off a wild, but short-lived celebration.
But referee Rich Pettit had apparently lost sight of the puck and blown the whistle.
No goal. No celebration. No Notre Dame-Fairfield victory.
"It's terrible," Hetherman said. "He (Pettit) told me that when the goalie made the initial save, he said, `I instinctively put the whistle in my mouth. And then your guy taps it in and I pointed. But that was all out of instinct and I blew the whistle.' "
Notre Dame-Fairfield ended its season at 12-10, a huge improvement from mid-season, when the Lancers were struggling to find an identity at 4-7.
"The kids really turned it around. They started to apply what we were teaching," Hetherman said. "The kids worked hard, I couldn't be prouder of the kids. My kids played their hearts out and everyone contributed. You couldn't point to just one kid and that was the best thing. That was really the genesis for our turnaround."
Predictably, the Notre Dame players were distraught after the MacLean goal to end it. Lancers captain Jonny Suporn screamed at the referees at center ice and had to be restrained by a teammate before tearfully getting into the handshake line.
Hetherman simply couldn't believe that the goal was taken away.
"When they were discussing the play I couldn't think that they were going to go the other way," Hetherman said. "He pointed. It should have been a goal. But we told the kids it's a life lesson. They'll understand some day."
Suporn opened the scored for Notre Dame (12-10), beating Thibodeaux from the short side at 3:17 of the frist period, But Glastonbury got the equalizer at 3:41 of the second period as Zach McGrail beat Will Scovil to make it 1-1.
With just 3:46 left in regulation, Notre Dame's Tyler Henchcliffe shoved home a rebound off a hard shot from Mark Russo to give the Lancers a 2-1 lead but just 29 seconds later, the Tomahawks tied matters at 2-2 as MacLean's shot from the right circle was deflected through Scovil's pads by Adam Yeager, setting up overtime.
And the controversy that followed.
"Both teams battled all game long and I thought we were going to a third overtime," Glastonbury coach Ken Barse said. "Then it got crazy. I heard the whistle blow, the ref made the right call but when he signaled a goal, that's where the confusion started. The ref made a mistake, he shouldn't have signaled for the goal. That's the only unfortunate thing about this game.
"This was a great game, two powerhouse teams going at it. I feel for the ND kids. It's unfortunate that it had to end that way for them."