Chaos conspiracy?

The Spiders, which at the halfway point of Sunday night’s game, were dominating the 10–0 Chaos and held a commanding 3–1 lead, found themselves on the butt-end of the refs’ whistles, as well as the Chaos’ sticks, shoulders and hips. Post-game message board and Twitter trending-topic activity buzzed about whether there was a concerted effort — or even conspiracy — to keep the Chaos on their charmed undefeated roll through D1.

From seemingly meaningless missed offsides and questionable faceoff placements, to whistling dead juicy rebounds and allowing goals with players in the crease, and finally, conjuring up an infraction at the most critical point of the game, the officiating did everything they could to turn this game around for the Chaos. How else do you explain:

  • A delay-of-game call in the neutral zone on a player forcibly pressed against the boards (in a no-checking league) by two Chaos forecheckers?
  • A tripping call on a Spider defender who was 15 feet away from a Chaos skater falling over his own skates?
  • A slashing call against a Spider who got chopped in the back when trying to clear a Chaos forechecker hacking at the Spiders’ goalie?
  • An “interference” call against the Chaos for a two-handed retaliatory slash at an opponent’s head?
  • A goal allowed when a Chaos forward was clearly in the crease prior to receiving the pass?
  • A non-call against the Chaos goalie who did his best to decapitate a Spider forechecker who was crosschecked up high into the net? (At least the goalie apologized after the game…)
  • A whistle by a ref at the far corner blueline when the goalkeeper gives up a clean rebound to the other side, where three Spider forwards had converged undefended?

And to top it off:

  • A “holding” call on a player who helped an opponent stand back up?

This one was the pièce de résistance. With the game tied at 3–3 and two and a half minutes remaining in the third, a Chaos forechecker tried to skate through the body of a slightly larger Spider winger in the high slot. The Chaos player bounced to the ice. The Spider winger, in a show of sportsmanship, reached down to give him a hand in getting back up — as is common at JMS and other rec hockey (or any other sport, for that matter). In one final attempt to tilt the ice for the Chaos, the Spider winger was called for holding. Holding?!

It took just 30 seconds for the Chaos power play to redeem the gift certificate and grab the lead.

The Chaos, which reportedly pride themselves on their highly skilled, non-chippy brand of 10–0 D1 hockey, made up where the refs left off, dispelling any such rumors tonight. In an uproar over being outskated in the first period, numerous Chaos players became overly aggressive with their sticks, body play and attitudes in a clear attempt to take control, stop the Spiders’ momentum and keep their 10–0 record unblemished.

Perhaps too much to lose to keep it clean? But of course, they were innocent and helpless victims every time they tried to bulldoze their way through an opponent or became tangled up in the normal course of play. The capacity Eden Prairie crowd would be forgiven if they thought it was a bunch of Sidney Crosby clones dressed in white sweaters.

Dishonorable mention goes to the Chaos Captain, who after skating into one Spider and both going down, turned his attention to the next Spider coming off the bench, who was given a two-handed slash to the back of the neck by the still-fuming Chaos Captain. This Federal League move came following warnings to both benches at the second intermission about keeping it clean in the third. Inexplicably, the ref called this “interference.” The attacked Spider fell to the ice where he was hit, at the faceoff dot to the left of the Chaos net, and awaited team medical clearance before moving his neck.

Winning really is everything, isn’t it?

The Chaos Captain at least acknowledged he was fortunate to not be tossed from the game.

The owner of the retaliated-on neck received a surprise post-game dressing room get-well call from Wild winger Cal Clutterbuck, who conceded the league would likely do nothing about the Chaos Captain’s handiwork because he’s not deemed a repeat offender, but added:

“He better hope he retires at the end of the year, I’ll tell you that. Somebody’s going to hurt him before the end of the year. Someone will. It’s not going to be me, but someone will.”

Chalk to the scoreboard another insane D1 hockey game with completely out-of-line action missed (or imagined) by the refs. A ref, by the way, who boasted that this was only his 8th game ever officiating for USAH.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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