By Tina Comeau
Talk about a bizarre ending to a hockey game.
The Yarmouth Mariners fans were still celebrating their team’s 5-4 victory in a shootout, the Mariners had celebrated their victory, the three stars of the game had been announced and both the Mariners and some of the Summerside Western Capitals players were starting to leave the ice.
Connor Donaghey – who scored the winning goal with 7.6 seconds left in a game with the Miramichi Timberwolves a week earlier – looked to have been the Mariners’ hero once again, having scored the winner in the shootout.
But as the Mariners’ celebration theme song played and fans started to empty the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth on Saturday night, Jan. 18, something happened.
It was a 'wait-a-minute, we're-not-done-yet' kind of happening.
And the mood in the stands and on the Mariners bench quickly went from jubilation to disbelief and confusion.
The officials, who had been discussing Summerside's last shot of the shootout, called both teams back onto the ice and to their benches and placed the puck at centre ice, indicating that the shootout still wasn’t over.
“What is happening?” yelled people in the stands, both confused and angry.
To the packed house they were certain the Mariners had won the shootout, and the game, since none of the Summerside shots had gone in they believed, including one that they were sure they saw hit the crossbar.
The only problem was the officials were saying the shootout was still tied because that Summerside shot had gone in.
As the fans booed and yelled at the officials, the shootout continued, this time with a missed shot by the Mariners followed by a Summerside shot hitting its mark in the net.
Now it was the Summerside team celebrating the 5-4 victory.
Can you say, “What the heck?” because it’s what the fans were saying in the stands. Not only were they angry, they couldn’t believe what had just happened.
The Yarmouth Mariners team immediately filed a protest with the league following the game, saying that video shot during the shootout – the entire Mariners game was videotaped – clearly shows that Summerside did not score in their three attempts in the shootout. The team is forwarding a copy of the video to the league.
(You can see a copy of the video that has been shared on our Yarmouth Vanguard facebook page. You can also view a copy of the video on YouTube by clicking here. The replay has been slowed down even more.)
Mariners head coach Laurie Barron called it the strangest ending to any hockey game he’s ever coached or been involved in.
“I played four years of junior and I’ve coached for 20-plus years and I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said.
Asked about the officials’ explanation as to why the teams were called back to the ice, “They said it was a goal, the one that hit the crossbar,” Barron said about the third Summerside shot.
“Just looking at (the video) it’s clearly not a goal. We’ll send the video in, we’re just unsure what the rule is or if they can overturn it.”
If the result stands, the Mariners get one point for the tie at the end of regulation, but Summerside gets two points for winning the game.
Barron said that what seemed to be lacking in how the shootout ended was common sense.
“Generally when someone thinks they scored, they argue,” he said, but he suggedted that didn’t occur in this case. Some Summerside players had left the ice.
Although when fans continued to question the outcome of the game, speaking with Summerside team staff after the game, the perspective from the Summerside bench was that they had scored during the shootout. They said they couldn't understand why the Mariners and fans were celebrating, or why people were starting to empty the rink. As far as they were concerned, the game wasn't over.
Yet even with the way the game ended – at least your interpretation of how it ended – Barron said it didn’t erase the fact that the Mariners let a 4-0 lead in the game slip away from them. Yarmouth’s four goals – three in the first and one at 6:52 in the second – had been scored by Colin Campbell, Nicklas Lindstrom, Josh Desmond and Justin Rasmussen.
Summerside scored four unanswered goals, which included three in the second period off the sticks of Thomas Stavert, Malik Johnson and Issac Jay to close the gap to 4-3. The tying goal came with 34 seconds left in the third period – scored by Maxim Pitre – after the Capitals pulled their goalie Alex Kelly for the extra attacker in the final minute. A scoreless five-minute overtime pushed the game into the shootout.
The previous night the Mariners had defeated the Valley Wild 7-1. Barron said big wins like that aren’t always a good thing.
“Sometimes after a 7-1 victory like that you tend to get away from the things you need. We were up 4-0 in the game but we just got away from that. Disappointing, but that’s the way it goes,” Barron said.
As for how the game ended, again, he said, this was something new for him.
“I’ve never seen anything like that ever before,” said Barron.
The MHL gamesheet recorded the shootout as follows:
Yarmouth: 11 Colin Campbell - No Goal
Summerside: 11 Maxim Pitre - No Goal
Yarmouth: 10 Connor Donaghey - Goal
Summerside: 5 Cavan Fitzgerald - No Goal
Yarmouth: 9 Shawn Boudreau - No Goal
Summerside: 16 Thomas Stavert - Goal
Yarmouth: 21 Justin Rasmussen - No Goal
Summerside: 81 Alex Gallant - Goal
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