Canadian Hockey League lets viewers hear video review conversation

By Andrew Lippe

Disputed goals and controversial referee decisions have been a major storyline of the 2007 NHL Season. Time and time again, inconsistent referee calls have fueled an already dwindling hockey audience. However in Canada, during the Canadian Hockey League s Memorial Cup presented by MasterCard, Rogers Sportsnet let fans listen in on the conversation between the video goal judge and the on-ice official, if a goal was under video review.

Fans have never been able eavesdrop like this before, says Rick Briggs-Jude, Vice President, Production, Rogers Sportsnet. The best part is there is a clear understanding of the call. They hear the interpretation and know why it was called that way.

The Memorial Cup Tournament took place May 18 to May 27 and featured teams from the three leagues that make up the CHL organization. This tournament is a feeder of sending talent to the NHL,” says Briggs-Jude.

The Medicine Hat Tigers from the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Plymouth Whalers from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the Lewiston Maineiacs from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and the Vancouver Giants the CHL host team, faced off in a round robin tournament which saw Vancouver be crowned Memorial Cup Champions.

Prior to the tournament Doug Beeforth, President of Rogers Sportsnet discussed this innovation when he met with the league s commissioners. The league commissioners gave us a big vote of confidence, says Briggs-Jude.

During the last three games of the tournament Rogers Sportsnet installed headsets for the goal judge. The games were produced in HD and Rogers Sportsnet used the Horizon 4 HD mobile trucks for all the games.

The biggest controversy was a disputed goal scored during the first period on a game May 25. It appeared the Plymouth Whalers had scored when a delayed penalty was called against Vancouver. Rogers Sportsnet announcers Peter Loubardias, and Sam Cosentino sat back with the rest of the viewing audience and awaited the referee s decision. Viewers then heard the conversation between the referee and goal judge.

The viewer could hear the goal judge, says Briggs-Jude.

They both looked carefully at the possession of the puck because of the delayed penalty. Referee Francis Charron came to the conclusion that one of the Vancouver Giants players touched the puck before it crossed the line and passed Giants goalie Tyson Sexsmith. Therefore it was not a goal. Fans heard first-hand why the goal was disallowed. The Vancouver Giants won the game 8-1 and maybe the game momentum would have been different had the goal been allowed.

The technology had an effect on viewership as it was 15 percent higher than last year s tournament.

For NHL integration Briggs-Jude explained the replay is a little more complicated. Their goal review goes to the Central headquarters in Toronto so it s a bit more challenging, he says. It is not impossible though as it is just tapping into a phone line.

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