Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Potpourri: Novak Injury And Other Stuff

The Anchorage Daily News is reporting that Bob Motzko told St. Cloud Times correspondent Matt Nevala that Travis Novak has been medically cleared to fly home and did not suffer serious injury.  That's great news.  Motzko commented additionally that whether or not Novak would actually fly with the team on this morning's return flight hadn't been decided.
That's all great news.  Not only will it be a relief for Novak and his family, lots of deeply concerned UAA fans will be relieved as well.  I know I am.  Continued best wishes to Travis.

Here's Doyle Woody's description of the events:
The play that felled Novak, of Lethbridge, Alberta, was innocent by the standards of a sport that features violent collisions at high speeds and is played on a rink surrounded by hard boards and Plexiglass.

Just before the horn blared to end the second period -- the game was tied 2-2 at that point -- Novak gained possession of the puck along the boards in the Huskies' zone. He appeared to pivot toward the boards and dip his head just as Gorham came from behind and made relatively gentle contact.

The move Gorham employed is known in the game as a "rub-out,'' far shy of a body-banging check. The contact appeared to knock Novak, who was close to the boards, into the barrier head-first.
All the circumstances now clear and with Novak seemingly "healthy" is it an appropriate time yet for some recriminations.  I think so, in fact in this case the issues surrounding this major penalty call should be reiterated right away. 

Max Battimo and Justin Brown fucked up.  No mincing words from me this morning on that.  Not only did they get the call completely wrong.  They used video replay during the break between the periods to get it completely wrong.  Let's be clear here.  Brad Gorham did not commit an infraction of any sort.  Had Novak popped back up and skated to the locker room there'd have been ZERO consideration for any call.  Doyle Woody's description, my description last night, JimJames descriptions and observations as well as judgements from St. Cloud fans all back up the assertion that the call was bogus.

I can only speculate about all this and freely admit that speculation is evidence of nothing  ... but let's shall we ... as there since there is nothing else to go on?  This event unfortunately did effect both the tenor and the outcome of the game.  I don't claim to say that without it UAA would have won the game.  That can't be determined.  But it's clear it was an impetus for the St. Cloud victory.

Scenario #1: Maybe they were rattled?  I was a bit rattled when I saw Novak laying on the ice for that long.  Did the apparent injury to Novak and their emotional reaction to it influence the call?  To me this is the mostly likely and mildest contributor to the clear error that these two made.  If it is just a case of this then there is only one clear path to mitigate the error.  This referees simply need to admit it to the WCHA officials who surely will be giving this event some measure of additional oversight.  Max and Justin just say something along these lines ... "hey that kid was laying there and in the wake of past WCHA high profile injuries ... Bina hurt by Paukovich, Genoway hurt by Marvin and Martin hurt by Malone .... we just wanted to be sure we took the firmest possible action to prevent recriminations".  I'd be mostly okay with such an admission on their part.  I mean in the sense that I'd understand where they're coming from.  I can relate.  But if that were the case, the league needs to apologize to UAA for the gross overly reactive call against Brad Gorham.

Scenario #2: Were there external influences at work which deprived either or both of these referees their most sound judgement?  I had a pregame nap yesterday.  Without it, I wouldn't have been anywhere near sharp at the game.  Did these referees have ineffective pregame naps?  Was their sleep out of whack due to the 3 or 4 hour time change?  Is flying to Alaska a detriment to the sharpest possible observation skills of it's referees?  Okay, I'll say the next one ... were they hungover?  I have no information about these two particular referees with regard to their use of alcoholic beverages.  But I do know there are referees in this league that continue to associate with fans after hockey games while consuming alcohol.  It's become somewhat of a traditional activity.  If league oversight were to determine that any of the possibilities in this scenario contributed to this horrendously bad call I'd not be a happy camper at all.  Being improperly prepared to conduct the duties of your job means that one shouldn't report to work that day.  If any of that speculation comes anywhere near the truth of the matter, then the league owes UAA an apology and depending on the exact circumstances might consider suspension for one or both of these referees.

Scenario #3: Were there previous circumstances in the game that led them to overreact?  We've all seen WCHA officiating for long enough to realize they like to "even up" the calls where and when possible. Did events from the previous night make this game vulnerable to get out of control?  Were the first two periods full of inciting acts that threatened good order?  In their own minds did one or both of these referees just think that they fucked up so many calls earlier that they better buckle down and get tough?  There's nothing in my mind or on the boxscores that would lead me to believe this.  Friday nights game wasn't contentious.  The first two periods of Saturdays game included a couple or three missed calls either way.  But nothing on the scale that would cause either team some major resentment leading to them acting out on the ice.  This scenario seems pretty unlikely.  Again though, if league oversight determined these referees were influenced as desribed above ... then they owe UAA an apology and again ought to give these referees a weekend or two off and some additional training sessions or guidance as to how to properly officiate a game.

Yesterday I questioned the competency of Max Battimo and Justin Brown.  I stand by it.  It's not an unusual for a WCHA fan to do so.  In fact, quite the opposite.  It's pretty much par for the course that in any WCHA weekend officials are going to be subject to second-guessing and harsh criticism for their actions.  
There is zero transparency and no obvious accountability from WCHA fan's perspective.  Unless and until somebody in the league office and/or Athletic Directors en masse address these ongoing problems they'll continue to generate negativity and passion from the people who put the gas in the tank of the WCHA bus; we the fans.  Can we at least get some clarification about the use of video replay?

Yes, this focus on refereeing in this league gets tiresome doesn't it?


It's early still today.  I'll have additional sub-entries here as the day progresses on my usual potpourri of subject matter.  Yeah ... that means at some point I'll probably talk about Joe Miller.  Fun, fun, fun in store for all of us!  And after last night ... why the hell not eh?  All that seriousness and anxiety and concern about a dire injury are thankfully past.


Yes blog fans, I did send Bob Motzko an email last Monday containing five questions.  Unlike Tom Serratore's gracious albeit brief response, I got nothing in return.  I will not however deprive you of seeing the the entire text of the email I sent.  Here it is ...
Dear Coach Motzko,
Please forgive the length of this note but it includes necessary information for you to make a judgement as to your participation in my now weekly email Q&A for the readers of the UAA Hockey Fan Blog ( of which I'm the founder and primary author.  In my nearly five years of blogging for UAA fan's entertainment and education I regularly provide whatever knowledge and analysis I'm able.  But the same shinola for five years gets stale (the Stearns County Syndrome jokes ya know??) ... so last week during our series with Bemidji State, I introduced this now weekly feature.

I asked Coach Serratore five questions and begged him to answer.  He both did and he didn't ( but was complimentary in classifying the attempt as unique.  My reader feedback tells me that the mob (my readers) must be satiated in their lust for such information.  If you do check my interview with Coach Serratore you'll note that even though his response was brief, it delighted me and satisfied my readers.  I'm not encouraging you to be as brief (should you respond at all) but just noting that anything is better than nothing here on my blog.

So ... in advance of this weeks series against the Seawolves;  As I admitted to Coach Serratore last week, UAA granted me press credentials (last year).  I'm hoping that in itself will give you reason to consider participating. Additionally, it could very well just be fun.  Should you answer, I'll gladly redact any part of your response (or all) as you request.  I hope you receive this in the manner in which it is intended (irreverent entertainment).  Now onto the meat ...

1. As a graduate assistant at St. Cloud under Herb Brooks, do you remember the first time he yelled at you?  Can you relate the circumstances for my readers?  Did he ever make you bag skate with the players?  When you watched the original TV Movie about the Miracle on Ice did you wonder (like I did) how Karl Malden's nose got so big?

2. I must recognize and honor that it could put you in a bit of a bad spot (in the coaching fraternity sense) to ask you this next question ... but I'm compelled since I'm sure you know both guys well enough. Don't you think there must be some distant genetic heritage between Craig Dahl and Troy Jutting?  Honestly, they look like brothers to me.  Or is it just my imagination gone wild?

3. Have you ever played shinny with Brush Christiansen and/or his brother Huffer?  If so, does Huffer hack and slash as much as Brush?  If not, would you still lace them up if they were on the other team?

4. On the occasions when you were invited to Don Lucia's home for a dinner party and you arrived early but still found John Hill's hooptee already parked in the driveway, what was the first thing that crossed your mind?  What was your favorite hors d'oeuvres that Joyce made and served?  Do they have a trampoline in the backyard?  Did Hillers ever bump his head on it or get caught up in the springs?

5. Are you expecting any surprises from the Seawolves this weekend in Anchorage?
Thank you much in advance for your participation and for entertaining and enlightening my readers.  As I mentioned to Coach Serratore, I'd love to wish your team best of luck this weekend but it's really really difficult for me to do because I'm a homer and greedy for WCHA points.  I know it's perhaps not the best form but it is what it is.  Thanks again sincerely.
Best Regards,
Donald M. Dunlop

ps.  I know email seems like a hassle.  I hate it too.  But hey ... please?  And oh yeah ... it's only 9:30pm here even though your email notes this arrived at your server after midnight.  Just sayin ... I am sober  ;-)
It's important for me to note that I sent this with the full expectation that I'd get no reply.  So in no way am I disappointed or surprised that none came.  Feel free to offer any advice you may have to increase my response rate on these above the current 50%.  CC Head Coach Scott Owens is up next and I've been somewhat formulating questions mentally already.  Suggest one if you like.  Predict which (if any) of the remaining WCHA Head Coaches will actually respond.  I think at the end of the season I'll make a post dedicating the whole concept to Air Force's Frank Serratore and send him five questions.


UAA's various recruits are plugging along pretty well in their respective leagues.  There's a few nice things to note.  Defenseman Derek Docken's performanc through the first part of the season with Dubuque has been pretty notable.  Derek has been sitting amongst the league +/- leaders since early on.  In 15 games he's a very quality +12.  One can often attribute high plus/minus ratings as deriving somewhat from the team's performance.  And while Dubuque is certainly one of the best performing teams in the USHL this season the closest any teammate is to Derek's numbers is a +8 currently.

More testament to Derek's obvious responsible play is his scoring statistics.  He's got 0 goals and only 4 assists.  The current league leader in plus/minus has 10 goals and 14 assists for a +13.  The third place plus/minus leader has 9 goals and 11 assists.  From what's been written about Derek last season and from what I'm seeing this season ... he's ULTRA-Responsible in his own zone.

Dubuque teammate defenseman Tony Larson has 1 goal and 6 assists in 14 games and has a  a nice +7 rating.  Both of these guys are performing well for the 10-3-2 for the Fighting Saints.  I personally think it's wrong for Saints to be Fighting.  They ought to be promoting peace, love and harmony eh?

Staying in the USHL, forward Eric Scheid is Lincoln's second leading scorer with 4 goals and 4 assists through 13 games.  He's also leading the team in the +/- category.  This is Eric's first year playing junior hockey after coming out of the Minnesota High School and Elite League system so it's nice to see him performing and contributing at this level.  Lincoln has some fairly balanced scoring and is 8-5-0 in league play thus far.

Sam Mellor has some catching up to do in terms of pure numbers on the league leader table after his 10 day or so absence from the BCHL.  Now with 23 games under his belt, Sam has 23 goals (still 2nd best in the league) and 20 assists.  His 1.9 point per game production does have him tied for 1st in that category.  Trail did well in the absence of two of it's best players at the WJAC.  They sit atop the Interior Confernce table with a 19-9-0-1 record and 39 points which is 2nd best overall behind Powell River's 44 Coastal Conference total.

Speaking of Powell River (yay for easy segue's) ... Andrew Pettitt now has 10 goals and 14 assists in 29 games on that talent laden squad who already have 6 college committed players on the roster.

Over in the AJHL, Scott Allen's Spruce Grove Saints are once again atop the league standings with a 22-2-0-3 record for 47 points.  The Saint's are averaging a very stingy 1.6 goals against so far this season.  Allen has 9 goals and 11 assists in 21 games so far.

Note that I added "Signed LOI" to the recruit links section for each player that has done so.  This shouldn't be construed in any negative manner for the players not so designated.  It means nothing as there are a number of valid reasons why they might remain blank.  I've added the ones that have signed just for "officialdom" purposes and because folks sometimes ask, "Has so-an-so signed an LOI?"


Is a Sunday afternoon continuously barking neighborhood dog about the worst thing EvaH?  I get that a dog needs it's outside time.  But how do owners not hear the incessant hardcore barking and decide to do something about it?  They must just have their fucking TV turned up loud enough to cover it?  Or what?  Thing is ... this isn't even my 100% deaf neighbor's dog.  He somehow senses when his dog barks or is just responsible enough to bring the dog in after a reasonable length of time outside.  I've had shitloads of dogs; and I promise you none of them spent any time over a few minutes outside barking their stupid asses off at fucking nothing without me bringing them in.


Ok I lied sorta.  I'm not going to write anything more about Joe Miller here other than this.  Hey Joe, take your pathetic lying scumbag sleazy hypocritical stupid lispy self somewhere outside this state permanently please.  Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Since when is video replay used to determine a penalty? Didn't these refs use replay TWICE last night? Remember they screwed up and sent Haddad off the ice, before they got that one right.

I think the league needs to look at the actions of these refs very closely. But they probably will not. Typical.

Donald Dunlop said...

I'm honestly unsure as to the limitations and or extenuating circumstances under which video review is allowed. Donna from RWD indicates (and since she took the time to mention it I'll stipulate she's correct) that video replay is acceptable in the case of injuries.

I think the overriding issue is that if you're going to use extraordinary methods then you damn well better get it right. And if you don't get it right .. then have enough balls to come out and say it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I was just at St. Cloud St. website and there is a story of last nights game and no mention of Novaks injury just that we had 2 5 min major penalties. One would think that they would want to inform their fans about this. Hmmmmmm, I guess I will have to look else where for information on Novak. We do hope he is ok and wish the best for him.

Anonymous said...

..."Wow, I was just at St. Cloud St. website and there is a story of last nights game and no mention of Novaks injury".

That doesn't surprise me considering some of the comments over on the USCHO website. That little pencil dick that goes by the name of 'SCSU Euro' is a prime example.

Instead of showing any signs of concern for their player, he instead makes up an insulting name for Mark Pustin after he scored our 3rd goal of the game.

Real classy fan you have there St. Cloud. >:x

BBEF said...


I sent you an email with all my crazy ideas for Owens. I don't think he will respond but use what I sent if you want.

BBEF said...

@ anon / wow - I was really suprised this was the first place on the net (I looked elsewhere first) that I found any info on Novak. I waited until the middle of the day. I googled to no avail and then came here. I'm a CC fan and have no real vested interest in the matter. I was really suprised.

MeanEgirl said...

Be nice to Justin Brown!

Donald Dunlop said...

He shouldn't referee with a hangover MEg ...

vizoroo said...

I know you had previously posted that they were waiting for the right people, AFD, to arrive before moving Novak. But, shouldn't there be appropriately trained people and equipment at the rink in the event of serious injury?

I think Jesse Martin was down on the ice for about 10 minutes before he was taken off by the UND/Grand Forks paramedics. That seemed like forever and Saturday night was at least twice that long.

Glad to hear Novak's injury was not nearly as serious, but it was still very scary.

Anonymous said...

A speedy recovery to young Novak. Enjoyed excellent streaming of both games. Must say this is the best looking Seawolves team in years. Appears to be good chemistry and the team seems to sense they can play with anyone. Thanks for the post-game interviews. All the players seem to be reading from the same script, and that's a good thing. Yeah, the refs decided the outcome of Saturday's game. Oh, well, just amateurs under a big league microscope of politically correct hockey. Two weeks on the road should bring this young team even closer. -30-

Donald Dunlop said...

I'll be trying to look into that today. There was a physician attending Novak during the entire incident and I've little to no doubt that both SCSU and UAA's trainer have BLS (Basic Life Support) or ALS (Advanced Life Support) certification and/or training as part of their professional training. That doesn't make them as qualified as an EMT per se but would give them more than enough knowledge and training to fully support the attending doctor.

There is no doubt though that the amount of time that passed before the ambulance got there is suspect. I fear an answer to that question may be harder for me to come by. I've already heard speculation that it was in some way related to Municipality of Anchorage budgetary concerns ... and will I put little to no stock in that theory the fact that those issues are at the forefront of current local politics will surely mean I'll be stymied in efforts to get a real answer. Hopefully, I can get some sort of third party version. It very well could be something as simple as the closest dispatchable ambulance had just gone out on another call and the one that arrived came from some distance.

There have been traumatic injuries at the Sullivan in the past and I can recall much speedier responses so hopefully this situation was just an isolated set of circumstances.

vizoroo said...

Will be interested to see what you find out.

BTW, Go Seawolves! Beat CC!

Donald Dunlop said...

The University does contract (pays for) priority ambulance services (it's mandated by the WCHA in fact) for it's games. There are no details available but I can say that an ambulance was immediately dispatched however en route it was sent to another call whereupon a 2nd ambulance was sent to the Sullivan.

UAA is endeavoring to get the details. Obviously that won't fix the wait that Travis Novak had to endure but should help ensure that such a thing doesn't happen in the future.

But it's good to know that UAA played no part in the delayed response and was in compliance with all league and NCAA requirements for emergency services availability.

vizoroo said...

Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey blog brought up the question of why the delay in getting Novak stabilized and moved to the hospital. Thought about telling him what you had posted, but thought the info was better coming from the horse's mouth. So it's on you.

Donald Dunlop said...

I don't read or post over there ... I'm not much interested in Minnesota High School hockey blogs.

I put it in this comment section for you but I already planned to cover it tomorrow.

vizoroo said...

I agree Minnesota High School Hockey is not my cup of tea, glass of wine, etc.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Richard McEvoy was sitting near the UAA drum band and as soon as the incident occurred, he was jumping across seats to get over to haul ass to the steps downstairs on the visitor's ice entry side.

He was there seconds after the accident and aside from stepping off for a second to grab some supplies, he was with Novak the entire time.

McEvoy's bio:

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