There are matches and games in all sports where an officials' aggressive call or pattern of judgements – or lack thereof – will bring the comment that the referees were no longer officiating the match but have inserting themselves into the game.
And on the pair of goals scored against Belmont High School Girls' Ice Hockey team Saturday, Dec. 22 in their 2-1 loss to neighbors Arlington High, the refs' actions directly resulted in both tallies; one on a questionable call late in the game and the other on a less-than-skillful hip-check against Belmont's best defender.
"We played a great game. But for some reason we always have trouble scoring against Arlington," said Mark Haley, Belmont's long-time head coach.
"We need more shots and more goals. We can't live on one goal," said Haley.
Ranked eighth in Eastern Massachusetts by the Boston Globe, the SpyPonders were 3-0 entering their match-up with the Marauders (1-2-1) at Viglirolo Skating Rink, having outscored their opponents 16 to 2.
Yet the young Belmont squad (11 of the 18 members are either freshmen or sophomores including four of five defensemen and the goalie) took the game away from the more physical visitors who ended the game with five penalties including two roughing, an elbow and boarding calls.
Belmont doubled the number of shots on SpyPonder goalie Katie Gilligan in the first period while on the other end of ice, sophomore goaltender Ani Somers and Belmont junior Kendall Brown backstopped the Marauder's defense.
It was midway in the second period when an official, as actors would say, "broke the fourth wall" and became part of the action. Belmont's Brown was covering Arlington's senior Eva Colarusso as the SpyPonder's scoring leader skated on the left wing towards Belmont's goal when one of the two refs ran into Brown, knocking her out of the play. The "play" allowed Colarusso a wide open lane to Somers where she beat the underclassman.
"He came over after the goal to said he was sorry," said Haley, with a shrug.
Both teams then relied on their goaltenders to keep them in the game as Gilligan and Somers made outstanding saves.
"[Somers] did a good job and came through big time several times in the third period," said Haley.
Belmont found the equalizer with five minutes remaining in the third period from a familiar source. Senoir center Alexandra Cellucci's snap shot goal from 15 feet in front of Gilligan was a result of a series of quick passes from line mates Christy Moore and Pauline Ayers allowing Cellucci to be open in the slot
"[Cellucci] played a whale of a game," said Haley. "She was all over the ice."
Haley also praised winger Moore, who moved from defense to forward.
"She's really beginning to understand the position," he said.
Then in the final minutes, the refs entered the game again, whistling a highly questionable interference penalty on Belmont within the final two minutes of the game despite the fact the Arlington player retained possession of the puck. After killing 30 seconds of the penalty, a low-skipping shot by Arlington senior Carolyn Woodin beat Somers with 56 second remaining in the game.
"It was just a fluky shot," said Haley. "Overall I had no problem with how all the girls played," said Haley.
"We're much better than the first game (a 7-2 loss to Watertown)," said Haley. "If we stay healthy, we'll make a run at these teams."
Boys' fight there but not the goals
Another game, another strong effort, yet again, the end result was a loss for Belmont High School Boys' Hockey which dropped a 5-0 decision to Arlington High School last Saturday, Dec. 22 at Viglirolo Skating Rink.
Led by Jake Cole and Joe Paolillo, Belmont pushed the SpyPonders in the first period. But the lack of a scoring punch – only one goal in four games – and being matched up against a team with a more physical presence took its toll on the Marauders as Arlington scored three goals in the first half of the second period.
Belmont is at the Salem NH Tournament where they will meet high school teams from Maine and New Hampshire.