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Another Incident with WCHA Officials

The WCHA is investigating an altercation that took place on Sunday night after the game between Minnesota and Minnesota State. Minnesota State assistant coach Eric Means got into an argument with official Jon Campion moments after the game on Sunday. University of Minnesota police seperated the two in a manner that apparently upset Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting, who had an animated argument with the police about their handling of the incident.

Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press has the few details that are known.

Means was apparently upset that Mankato only received a meager 2 powerplays on Sunday night to Minnesota's 7 powerplays. Or that Mankato only received 2 powerplays on Friday night to Minnesota's 6. Or that Minnesota apparently played 80 consecutive minutes of hockey without committing a single infraction between Friday and Sunday.

There is, of course, the argument that Minnesota is the faster, more skilled team and probably should have earned more powerplays. But the numbers don't seem to reflect that. The Mavericks outshout the Gophers 28-24 on Sunday, and if you take out the powerplay shots on goal, the Mavericks hold a 25-15 advantage. Friday night wasn't as stark, but the Mavericks did outshoot Minnesota 34-32, and 30-26 not counting powerplay shots. It seems to be a case of the officials calling the game based on reputation rather than reality.

That said, Means probably should be disciplined for his reaction. I've got no problem with him sticking up for his team, but there are still consequences for doing something like that. A one game suspension seems fair, and since MSU's next game is on the road, he probably wouldn't have been on the bench anyway.

Jon Campion should also be disciplined, but I'm not holding my breath. We're supposed to believe that the league's officials are completely impartial. Coaches aren't even allowed to mention officiating without suffering some sort of reprimand because to do so would imply that officials play some factor in the outcome of the game. It's the Great Lie that we'd all like to believe, but see proven false every weekend. And now we're supposed to believe that Jon Campion was completely impartial this past weekend when less than 10 minutes after the game, he was engaged in a heated argument with one of the coaches? It's one thing for Means to yell at him, but for Campion to respond to it, which it sounds like he did, that's completely unprofessional and unacceptable.

Goaltending guru Des Christopher made an interesting point on the radio a few weeks ago. He said he was at a tournament at Shattuck-St. Mary's and was talking hockey with a bunch of people from around the hockey world. They were comparing different leagues throughout hockey, and they decided that after the NHL and AHL, the WCHA was probably the third best league in North America, if not the world. Which leads to my question: is the WCHA the third best officiated league in the world? Is it even the third best officiated league in the NCAA? It's probably a question that the league needs to ask it itself and seriously examine.

Hopefully everyone can move on from this incident and put it behind them. It's most important for whichever official gets assigned to this weekend's series featuring Minnesota State to put this incident out of his head and not let it affect the way that he calls the game. Ask anyone at the WCHA league office and they will tell you that that is what their official will do. But if I were St. Cloud State, I'd be practicing my powerplay this week.