The Allen Americans got caught up playing a game that was completely out of their element.  In fact, it was their own game that ultimately did them in as the Missouri Mavericks walked away with game one of the Biron President’s Cup semi-finals by a score of 5-1.  Mathieu Corbeil stopped 36 of 37 Americans shots for the win, while his counterpart, CHL goalie of the year, Aaron Dell allowed 5 goals on 24 shots.

The Mavs came out completely dictating the pace on the ice as it seemed every Allen puck handler found himself smothered by no less than 3 white jerseys.  It didn’t take long for Missouri to get on the board, as Seabastien Thinel scored an unassisted goal at the 1:55 mark of the first period.  Allen looked to tie the game up and seemingly the momentum when Jim McKenzie was taken down on a break away and was awarded a penalty shot.  Corbeil was patient and stood his ground, forcing McKenzie to go wide with the puck. 

It was with just over 2 minutes to go in the first period, Allen lost the game, despite having 42 minutes left to go.  Missouri’s tenacious net presence caused a Maverick forward to go crashing into Dell, however there was no indication from the referee that there was an upcoming interference call.  At 17:49, Kenton Miller of Missouri ended up on top of Allen captain, Jason Deitsch.  Again, there was no call from the officials, so the captain took the matter into his own hands and the two dropped  mitts and  spun around for several minutes, each landing a decent punch here and there, but nothing  that would set the tone for or against a team.  The period soon ended with Allen outshooting Missouri, 11-5.

The second period  saw Allen tie up the game when Kale Kerbashian scored his first goal of the playoffs at 16:41 when he took the feed from Drew Daniels and sent a wrister over the top of Corbeil.  At 18:07, Jarret Lukin was penalized for…well, for playing hockey and 30 seconds later, Missouri would take the lead back and for good.  The call on the ice was for “roughing,” but it was apparent where the ref was in relation to the play on the ice, if he was watching the puck (which most refs are required to do or they blow the whistle if they lose sight), he would have never seen Lukin come into the high slot.  There, the Maverick forward turtled onto the ice and it was at that point the ref made the call.

The third period would begin with a minute of 4-on-4 play as Allen was looking at a sure power play, but Corbin Baldwin didn’t keep his cool and his undisciplined play got called and he was sent to the box as well.  At the 7:23 mark of the 3rd, one of the Missouri defensemen tripped…apparently over Darryl Bootland, but it was more over the blue line as Bootland was making the turn to head back down the ice.  The call resulted in Missouri’s 2nd power play goal of the night.  The goal resulted in McKenzie and Lukin spouting off to the ref and McKenzie was called for unsportsmanlike conduct while Lukin was assessed a game misconduct for “abuse of the official.” 

The game ended with Bootland being assessed a double minor for roughing as apparently the referee, Peter Tarnaris felt it was necessary to give Bootland both roughing minors instead of rightfully giving the other one to Missouri forward, Andrew Courtney.  Tarnaris wasn’t done, even after the game as he assessed Jim McKenzie a “you hurt my feelings-abuse of the official” misconduct as well because, once again, Courtney was instigating, yet when someone from Allen stepped up to challenge him, Courtney basically skated behind and hid behind the official.

In all my years of watching this sport, I have never seen a greater abuse of “power” than tonight’s official.  In a perfect world, the fans will never know the name of the referee because the referee will never allow himself to become an integral part of the game.   When I mentioned the officiating, I was told the name of several referees who fans feel have a lopsided approach to calling Allen games.  If they are right or wrong, I don’t know.  Unfortunately, I do not attend as many games as I wish and/or should to accurately depict a strong foundational argument.  However, since several of the fans popped off referee names immediately shows that there might be something to the argument.  Name a ref in the NFL not named Ed Hochuli.  Name a NBA ref not named Tim Donaghy.  Baseball is slightly different because umpires are generally referred to by their names when making calls behind the plate or in the field.  Hockey has Kerry Fraser, but mainly because he’s got beautiful hair. 

Tonight, Peter Tarnaris just might be added to that list.  His inability to keep control of the game from the very beginning when Allen’s goalie, Aaron Dell was tackled in his own crease was his greatest fail of the night.  Allen was a team built on pride, support and physicality.  When their number one player is threatened, and the on-ice officials aren’t going to protect the goalie, then it’s up to the five skaters to send a message.  Tonight, a message was sent, even if the timing of it wasn’t at an opportune time.  Missouri is now on notice that if you run one of their own, you will pay.

As for Tarnaris, he apparently is not a subscriber to the anonymity a ref should have.  Just look at this pitch he made for a drink company:

And in an interview with Ted Warren from TheHockeyWriters.com, there is a quote:

Tarnaris repeats to himself before each game: “Nobody wonders where you have traveled in from that day, or what your day has been like, the officiating crew’s utmost concentration and professionalism is needed for the next 2.5 hours.”

Tonight in Allen, concentration and professionalism was replaced by ego and thin skin.  If the Americans are to stand a chance in this very physical series against a very good Missouri team, then one of two things will have to happen: either Allen will have to hope Peter Tarnaris never sets a skate blade on the ice at the Allen Event Center, or the Americans will have to completely change their style of play.  After having the best record in the CHL for the regular season, having to change a team’s identity in the post season is unwarranted, unexpected and almost certainly never works.