May 12, 2008
The end of Team USA's game against Finland descended into ugliness yesterday, but it was also sort of hilarious. Check out this fight between David Backes of the U.S. and Amsso Salmela of Finland, as Backes appears to be throwing punches with one hand while still holding his own hockey stick with the other. At one point, we were fairly convinced that Backes was going to unleash an ECW kendo stick attack on his Finnish foe:
This dance was a result of Dustin Brown's hit to the head on Jussi Jokinen at the end of Finland's 3-2 comeback win over the U.S.; a hit that Coach John Tortorella defended after the game as "the right play" since the Team USA net was empty at the time. Uh-huh.
But Torts had every reason to be steamed after the game, considering how his team was royally screwed on Finland's first goal. You may have already heard about how the puck went through the side of the net, and then video replay inexplicably did not overturn the goal. But seriously, it has to be seen to be believed: Check out TSN's footage at about the 48-second mark. To the IIHF's credit, the goal judge who blew the replay has been fired from the tournament. But we haven't seen Tortorella this upset since he and another guy both showed up at the same Halloween party dressed as the Fonz:
"I've heard about these horror shows as far as international refereeing I have finally lived through one,'' Tortorella said. "But not even that play there, the whole game. It's just ridiculous as far as how they're calling the game when you have two pretty competitive teams willing to go toe-to-toe. Let the teams and players decide."
Referee Vyacheslav Bulanov called a total of 202 penalty minutes, with 106 PIM against the U.S., which blew a two-goal lead in the third to lose its second game of the tournament. Adam Burish was ejected for butt-ending a Finland player with his stick. Olli Jokinen hit Tim Gleason from behind in the first period, and will miss today's game against Canada, as will Salmela for his postgame fight. Backes will miss the U.S. game against Norway today because of the brawl, but will be back for the start of the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
More on the phantom goal from Schultz at FanHouse, Mirtle at Mirtle, and in a rollicking discussion over a dozen pages at the HF Boards. Pretty astonishing stuff for an international tournament. And I'm not even talking about the replay goof or the hit to the head or the kendo stick fight -- who the hell knew Robert Esche could look that damn good between the pipes?