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In a recent struggle between man and technology — one not unlike the battles present within Blade Runner and Frankenstein — Russian hockey player Dmitri Voronkov came out on top.
During an intermission of Tuesday’s KHL clash between Ak Bars Kazan and Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Voronkov took a hammer to a ‘TSN’ camera. A member of the Russian team that fell 4-3 to Canada in the gold medal game of the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic on Sunday, the 19-year-old had plenty of reason to destroy the camcorder.
After surrendering a 3-1 third-period lead and finding themselves down 4-3 late in the frame, Russia was gifted the opportunity to knot things back up when Canadian defenceman Kevin Bahl took a hooking penalty with 2:14 remaining.
Russia decided to pull their goaltender to give themselves a 6-on-4 advantage as they pushed for the equalizer. Less than a minute later, Canada was the beneficiary of one of the most peculiar happenings to occur within a hockey rink in recent memory.
Attempting to clear the puck the length of the ice with under two minutes remaining in the period, Canadian forward Aidan Dudas sent the puck skyward on his backhand.
What looked to be a sure penalty for delay of game was thwarted by the centre ice camera being used for TSN’s broadcast of the game, one that was watched by millions of anxious Canadians on the other side of the Atlantic.
Instead of finding themselves with 6-on-3 advantage, the Russians fell apart mentally in the game’s dying moments. They took a couple of minor penalties down the stretch and Canada held on to their one-goal lead with ease to win their third World Juniors title in the last six years.
The camera’s influence on the outcome provided plenty of controversy in a tight game and Voronkov’s reaction to seeing a camcorder sporting a phoney TSN logo was both understandable and entertaining.
The referees’ interpretation of Rule 135 — which has to do with delay of game/shooting or throwing the puck out of play — ultimately ended up going the way of the Canadians. According to the rule, “a player who lifts the puck from the defending zone and hits the scoreclock or any structural object above the ice surface, causing a stoppage of play, will not be assessed a penalty.”
Can a broadcast camera be considered structural? That is the question that will be asked by Voronkov and his teammates for many years to come.
Unfortunately for the Russians, their future entries at the tournament won’t be escaping TSN’s wrath any time soon. The Canadian sports broadcasting giant announced “a long-term media rights agreement that extends through the 2033-34 season” with Hockey Canada on Tuesday.
A number of Russia’s supporters won’t be that shaken if they heard the news, though. There’s a good chance they weren’t watching the correct World Juniors gold medal game on Sunday, anyway.
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