The thankless job behind the nets

You’re sitting there convulsing from the cold because it feels like the inside of a glacier. Maybe it’s your nervousness from the 2-2 score with four minutes remaining in the third period and the next goal will win it.

There’s a three-on-two break for the Spartans as the offensive attack passes the blue line. There’s a rocketing slap shot, then a metal clank from the puck hitting the cross-bar, but you saw the puck completely cross the red line.

The deafening alarm screams in your head. It’s a goal!

The red light comes on signaling a good goal, but the puck is nowhere to be found inside the net. You start to question whether the puck actually went in or was it all some kind of sick trick from your brain. The referee pointed as if it was a goal, but maybe he went off the light. Then he skates toward you and asks without saying any words, was it a goal?

Welcome to the world of a college hockey goal judge. There’s no video replay here.

“I do get nervous sometimes, but it usually goes away because you realize all you have to do is watch the puck go in and press the button,” said Sean Bennett, a goal judge for Castleton.

Whether you’re turning the light on for your team or the opposing team there is no glory or “good game” for you at the end, goal judges say.

It is a pressure job at times, one that most college students don’t want. There our some souls among us, though, who don’t mind the pressure and actually look forward to getting behind the net.

“I personally would rather sit in the penalty box,” said Associate Dean of Athletics, Deanna Tyson.

There are two consistent goal judges, Robert Doran and Bennett. What makes these two people crave all the pressure and no thanks?

“The power to be able to say it was or wasn’t a goal,” said Doran.

Both goal judges also said that there’s a thrill to have the control of the outcome to a game.

But how do the players feel about these guys?

“I believe they are in need in college hockey, especially given the importance of every goal and game,” said Castleton goalie Jeff Swanson “More importantly in playoffs because of the brutal single elimination format.”

Guys like men’s hockey Coach Alex Todd are aware of that pressure and are thankful for the thankless job they do.

“Having a good goal judge allows the games to be as fair as possible,” he said.

But do these guys ever goof up and alter the outcome of the game?

Doran and Bennett admitted they both have made mistakes, but in the end the mistakes didn’t seem to matter.

There’s a slight grin and chuckle that came over Doran when asked about his.

“During a women’s game in the Rutland tournament I was watching the play and there was a rebound where the goalie was sliding out of the net while the puck was going in the other direction. A girl got the puck with an open net and nobody around, as she shot I pressed the button because I figured from three feet out you can’t miss the net, I was wrong. She missed miserably as the light went on and her bench went crazy, but play continued and they all were staring me down viciously! They lost big anyways so it really didn’t matter that much,” he said.

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