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Did anyone make a case for Herder goal judges?

It’s a moot point now, with Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador announcing Tuesday the controversial goal that gave the Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises CeeBee Stars the 2017 Herder Memorial Trophy championship will stand, but there appears to be some confusion over who was responsible for the absence of goal judges in the fateful game last Sunday.

Jack Lee

The CeeBees won the Herder in the dying minutes of the last game of the best-of-five provincial senior hockey final with a 4-3 decision over the Clarenville Ford Caribous at the Eastlink Centre.

The game-winning goal came off the stick of Kenny King, who supposedly scored with just over four minutes left in regulation time in a tie game.

However, video replay released by NTV’s Ryan Harding following the game showed the puck clearly slide under the side of the net.

Nonetheless, the four on-ice officials ruled it a good goal, and the CeeBees hung on for the Herder.

Contrary to most big-game hockey events, there were no goal judges present at the Eastlink Centre.

And while the referee or referees ultimately make the call on what is a goal or no goal, a goal judge, in this instance, would have been beneficial.

According to Hockey Canada’s Off-Ice Officials Manual, the role of the goal judge is to, “turn the goal light on if the entire puck has crossed the goal line between the goal posts and below the cross bar, regardless of the situation, and leave the light on for at least 5 seconds, or until acknowledged by the Referee.”

Given the fact video replay and still frames show a goal judge would not have been impeded by players behind the net, meaning he or she would have had an unobstructed view of the goal, it can be assumed the light, in this case, would not have been turned on as the puck did not cross the goal line between the posts and below the cross bar.

Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador president Jack Lee said Wednesday the decision not to use goal judges was one made by the two leagues and their representing teams — the CeeBees from the Avalon East Senior Hockey League, and the Caribous from the Central West Senior Hockey League.

“It was at a pre-Herder meeting,” he said. “I wasn’t there, but Craig Tulk (HNL’s executive director) was. I know the Avalon East league have not used them (goal judges) all year, and there was a concern of finding people to act as goal judges who were not bias.”

However, Central West circuit president Neil Norcott said his three-team operation employed goal judges this season, though he did acknowledge there was sometimes a “struggle” finding qualified people.

“All I can tell you HNL presented both teams with a Herder manual before the start of the series,” Norcott said. “HNL owns and operates the Herder. We have nothing to do it. Paddy (Avalon East president Paddy Daly) and I show up and watch the games like anyone else.”

Daly recalls bringing up the topic of goal judges during a meeting prior to Game 1 of the championship series in Harbour Grace.

“I said the East league hadn’t used them this season, and Ivan (Caribous general manager Ivan Hapgood) said the same, that his team had not used them,” Daly recalls.

“HNL said it doesn’t mandate the use of goal judges, or language to that effect. It was like, literally, a 20-second conversation.”

The result now, however, is a topic that will be talked about for a long time to come.

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