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Canada scores game-clinching goal after refs botch call at men's hockey worlds

The Czechs have a bone to pick with the officials after a truly bizarre sequence led to an empty-net goal for Canada.

Canada came out on the right side of an odd goal call against Czech Republic at the men's world hockey championship. (Image via @TSN_Sports/Twitter)
Canada came out on the right side of an odd goal call against Czech Republic at the men's world hockey championship. (Image via @TSN_Sports/Twitter)

Well, that was bizarre.

Trailing 2-1 in the final minute against Team Canada at the men's world hockey championship on Tuesday, Jakub Zboril of the Czech Republic attempted an outlet pass from the defensive end to forward Dominik Kubalik, who was streaking up the middle of the ice and missed on the pass, causing the forward to go into the zone prematurely for what appeared to be an obvious offside call.

Rather than blow the play dead once Czech forward Jiri Cernoch touched the puck behind the Canada net, linesman Simon Synek strangely decided to wave off the call and signalled to continue play. The decision seemed to freeze both teams and prompted an angry fan to toss something on the ice in the middle of play, adding to the weirdness of the sequence.

Making this even more confusing was that while both teams stood still, seemingly a little confused by what just took place, Canada forward Scott Laughton circled back, took the puck around the net, and skated through the defensive zone up the ice before finding a wide-open Lawson Crouse up the left wing. Crouse then scored an empty-net goal nine seconds later to secure a 3-1 victory for Canada.

Even TSN broadcasters Gord Miller and Mike Johnson, who were calling the game on TV, seemed completely dumbfounded by what took place.

After the play, the refs huddled for a minute or so, almost confused about what to do in this situation. But as Johnson pointed out on the broadcast in the clip above, the referees had no recourse for changing the decision since this was not eligible to be challenged, and had to stick with the call on the ice.

Per scoutingtherefs.com:

An offside challenge only applies to an offside by the attacking team prior to a goal. Canada was not offside on their empty-netter, so Czechia clearly would’ve lost that one.

“We know what the right call should be, but the question is: what are the mechanics that get them to that? I’m not sure there are any,” Johnson said, as cameras showed the Czech coach looking completely baffled by the ruling.

Even Crouse, who seemed just as confused by the play, was seen mouthing “What’s the call?”

With the victory, Canada finished second in Group B and will play Finland in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The Czech Republic squares off against the United States in the first game of the knockout round.