February represents the stretch run for most high school hockey seasons. In other words, this is the time of the season when coaches tend to get hyper-focused on winning, whether it’s simply to make the playoffs, or to get a better postseason seed. Far too often, I’ve seen coaches lose their composure, and their sense of sportsmanship. And if a coach loses sight of the overriding values that this game is supposed to impart, what can we expect of the players?
Last spring, I watched with serious concern and consternation as a local girls hockey coach went on a Twitter rant when his team lost a playoff game, in a shootout, against a lower-seeded squad. The game-winning goal might (or might not) have been hit a second time by the shooter. Hockey fans, coaches and refs know that, in a penaltyshot scenario, a player can’t touch the puck a second time after it’s shot. In this case, the refs ruled that the puck wasn’t hit twice, which ended the game.
Afterward, the coach of the losing squad took to Twitter to vent. Here’s a sampling: "They blew the call and I could tell they knew it."; "The player clearly saw the puck laying there after the initial attempt, instincts tell her to tip it again. Bad bad call."; "Why are the officials out of position? Horrible."