Column: Officiating in the spotlight as final continues

Columnist Jacob Bestebroer says the work of referees in the BCHL final has been interesting.

After Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime loss in West Kelowna, the Chilliwack Chiefs now find themselves down three games to one in the Fred Page Cup BCHL Final. Some quick math tells me that means they need to win three straight games this weekend or the West Kelowna Warriors will be BCHL champions.

Game five is tonight (Friday) at Prospera Centre. If needed, game six would be Saturday in West Kelowna followed by game seven in Chilliwack on Sunday.

Game four, despite it being a heart breaking loss for the Chiefs was easily the best game so far in this series.

Two very good teams going back and forth for more than 70 minutes.

After the first three games were at times equal parts hockey, rugby, wrestling, football and lacrosse, this game was all hockey. None of the after-the-whistle garbage we saw repeatedly through the first three games.

Game three, a 3-1 Chiefs win, was particularly bad for constant pushing, shoving, punching, crosschecking, slashing and talking after almost every whistle.

It was also, for the second time in the series, marred by a late game incident that was not penalized properly by either the referees or the league. Game one ended with a player dropping his gloves and punching another player four or five times.

Fighting major?

Intent to injure?

No, just a 10 minute misconduct. Then, late in game three a player cross checked another player five times, the last three blows delivered after the player on the receiving end had fallen to the ice.

Five minute major?

Intent to injure?

No, two minutes for cross checking.

In addition to this, late in game two, Chiefs forward Linden Hora received a five minute blow to the head penalty which comes with an automatic two game suspension. The replay clearly showed that Hora never hit the other player in the head. The league changed the call after the game and Hora was not suspended.

Prior to game four a directive came out from the league to the teams that after-the-whistle garbage and late game thuggery was no longer going to be tolerated and if it continued, penalties and or suspensions would be handed out.

As I said earlier, game four was by far the best game of the series, and the refs for the most part did an excellent job.

At its best the BCHL is an excellent product. We saw that in game four and see that in the majority of its games. But when it’s not properly monitored, we get what we saw in games one through three.

Players will push the boundaries as far as they can until they are told to stop. When they are not told to stop, it gets dangerous.

It shouldn’t have taken as long as it did for the teams to be told to clean it up.