Sat May 21 12:18am EDT
The replay on the brand new video scoreboard at the Hershey Centre showed it clearly - Saint John Sea Dogs forward Zack Phillips over the Majors blue line before the puck. The in-house feed picked up what was being shown across Canada on Sportsnet. The broadcaster added a telestrator-created yellow circle around the puck.
What they didn't show was Sea Dogs forward Michael Kirkpatrick dishing off to teammate Nathan Beaulieu, who beat Majors goaltender JP Anderson to give the the QMJHL champions a two goal lead in what was a 4-3 final.
"There's nothing we can do," said Majors forward Justin Shugg, who was in the box serving the hooking call that gave the Sea Dogs the advantage. "It's tough when you watch it up on the screen and everyone in the building and everyone on the ice knows it's offside, and that's how we lose."
The referees were Scott Ferguson from the OHL and Matt Kirk from the WHL working with two linesmen - Matt Traub and Jesse Wilmot who are also from the OHL.
During Game 5 of the OHL Final against the eventual league champion Owen Sound Attack, Majors head coach Dave Cameron had gone on a tirade about the officiating in the game, a 6-2 Majors victory, which Ferguson also worked. Cameron was subsequently fined $2,500 by the OHL for his remarks after that game.
"I don't think hockey players should have to be accustomed to the refereeing at all," said Shugg. "It's something that shouldn't be on a hockey player's mind when he's on the ice.
"If you can't make the right calls in a tournament like this, you shouldn't be reffing."
Beaulieu said he wasn't sure what happened on the play but knew something was up when many of the Majors fans among the crowd of 5,429 at the Hershey Centre started jeering.
"I couldn't tell you," he said. "After, I just heard a lot of boos and stuff.
"You know, those are tough calls and you can't blame it on anyone.''
Cameron also said the play was offside, but added that mistakes happen. He said the main problem was that the Majors were far too eager to take ill-timed penalties with their emotions getting the better of them. The Sea Dogs ended up going 3-for-8 with the man advantage, while the Majors finished 2-for-7.
"We lost our composure, there's no question about it," said Cameron. "It hurt."
Veteran defenceman Marc Cantin, who, like Shugg, is playing in his third Memorial Cup tournament, said the Majors were masters of their own fate regardless of the missed call.
"I was on the ice and you could tell it was offside right away," said Cantin. "You could everyone was waiting for the whistle and everyone let up. Myself, I was very surprised there wasn't a whistle. They capitalized on it ... it was obviously a missed call. But we could have tied it up, we had a chance at the end there, so I'm not going to solely blame it on that."
Late in the game Majors captain Casey Cizikas had the perfect opportunity to tie the game with Sea Dogs goalie Jacob DeSerres beat, but rang the puck off the post.
"We weren't so much the better team but we got a couple of bounces," Beaulieu said. "We didn't play our best game at all and I give full credit to them for working so hard."
The Majors will now face the WHL champion Kootenay Ice on Sunday, where they'll need to show the same effort without the costly time in the penalty box.
"I thought we played well enough to win," said Cantin, a Memorial Cup champion last season with Windsor. "Even with the last chances there in the last three minutes I thought we had some very good quality chances. Guys might have been gripping their sticks a little too tight, but I did think we had the effort."
The Sea Dogs will have lots of time to rest with their next game on Monday against the OHL champion Owen Sound Attack. The Attack play Kootenay on Saturday evening at the Hershey Centre.