One of the things that can be noticed easily about the National Lacrosse League is also something that in three years I have not mentioned. You get in a routine, you don't want to rock the boat, but at one point or another, it has to be said.
The referees in the NLL are absolutely terrible at their jobs. The reffing in the WCHA looks like perfection led by a chorus of angels compared to the NLL, and it is getting to the point that the league really needs to take a look at what their refs are doing. The league needs to be honest with themselves, and truly assess if the right people are doing the jobs that keep the game flowing.
If not, replace them. Soon.
The Minnesota Swarm certainly did not have what it took to win the game tonight. They started hot, but the defense remains suspect for the Swarm. They don't box out well, and they can't seem to keep up when moving to man coverage. The defense for the Swarm made their goalies look bad, resulting in Evan Kirk being yanked, and Tyler Carlson taking a beating he did not deserve.
The Swarm's offense did not exactly call for a parade, either. Time after time, the offense made the Mammoth look way better than they are. The transition would get the ball to John Grant, Jr and it was history after that. Eleven (!) points for Grant, Jr on the night. From a guy that you have to know is going to be the guy to focus on.
The game almost seems secondary tonight, as the refs blew call after call going both ways. The Swarm were called for a penalty for missing their cue coming back onto the field for the second half. The refs missed a fairly blatant shot to the head by Ryan Benesch, after calling an elbow to the head against the Mammoth, but not assessing a five minute major. Then, the refs yanked Mammoth goalie Matt Roik for illegal equipment late in the game.
The same equipment measured before the game, and during the game. And that Roik has been, apparently, using for years.
The refs refused explanation on several calls, even to the captains of the respective teams, which is as disrespectful as it is absurd. Then, in goalie equipment-gate, the refs seemed to be consulting with the head coaches for what the call should be. So first, you have no explanation, then over explanation. You have calls for hits to the head, then passing on the same call.
The Swarm lost this game. The Mammoth certainly beat them, executing every aspect of the game. The Mammoth should certainly be given credit for playing a great game, rallying to the cause of the game they set aside to battle cancer and support Sean Pollock.
At the same time, both sides need to be in contact with the NLL, because this game highlighted a major deficiency in the league. The reffing is atrocious. Find more words to describe how bad the reffing is, and all of them will apply.
The league should be ashamed of themselves for the reffing in this game, and the reffing in general.