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Players want just 1 thing from refs


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000

DALLAS -- Consistency. That's all the Lightning players are asking of referees.

The topic was hot Saturday, one day after questionable calls were made during Tampa Bay's 2-2 tie with the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. One call wiped out an apparent Lightning goal. Another led directly to a Maple Leafs goal.

"The two main things are consistency -- if they call it against one team that they call it against the other, and that they're not reffing against a team," defenseman Cory Sarich said. "A ref would never admit it, but you get the feeling they referee against a certain player or a certain team on the ice."

Sarich said this season's officiating has been "pretty fair." But there were questions Friday night after the Maple Leafs took a 1-0 first-period lead.

Sarich had the puck behind the Lightning goal when Toronto's Jonas Hoglund hammered him face first into the glass from behind. It appeared to be the kind of hit the NHL says it wants to eliminate. Referee Blaine Angus, looking at the play, thought otherwise.

With Sarich down, Hoglund picked up the puck and fed Mats Sundin, who fed Steve Thomas for the goal. Lightning coach Steve Ludzik complained at the time and before the second period.

According to Sarich, Angus said he did not make a call because Sarich turned his back on the play.

"I may have turned, but I believe (Hoglund) had plenty of time to put on the breaks and pin me to the boards," Sarich said.

The heat rose in the second when Angus called Tampa Bay forward Brian Holzinger for boarding after he hit Tie Domi from behind against the side boards.

"From the standpoint of the game, we just want to see consistency," Holzinger said. "It's certainly frustrating. We caught the short end of the stick with (Toronto) scoring on what should have been a penalty on them."

Angus got under Tampa Bay's skin again when he waived off an apparent power-play goal by Pavel Kubina that would have tied the score at 1 because Lightning right wing Mike Johnson fell over goaltender Glenn Healy as the puck went into the net. Johnson said he was pushed, "And it looked on the replay like the puck was in before I got there," he said.

Ludzik bit his tongue.

"We have to take it as a challenge to the team to stay out of the penalty box and earn the respect of the officials," he said.

MODIN LOSES ASSIST: In a late scoring change, left wing Fredrik Modin lost an assist on Johnson's second-period goal that tied the score at 1, even though it appeared his pass to Vinny Lecavalier started the play. Modin, acquired from Toronto last season, said he was told Healy got a stick on the pass.

"Disgraceful," Ludzik said. "Obviously a motivation that he was an ex-Maple Leaf."

Ludzik said Tampa Bay will appeal to the league to get the assist back.

SARICH PICKS UP THE PACE: Sarich had three hits, fought former Tampa Bay forward Darcy Tucker and was a noticeable presence during his 20:49 on the ice.

"He played very well, high marks," Ludzik said. "He seems to have located his confidence."

Sarich said a stint with the IHL's Detroit Vipers may have done the trick.

"I felt really relaxed and confident, and I had a good game on D, and that's the biggest thing," he said. "I'm getting the hits when I get a chance. That's a bonus."

GOALIE-GO-ROUND: Goaltender Dan Cloutier, out since Oct. 21 because of tendinitis in his left biceps, played for Detroit of the IHL on Saturday night at Orlando on a conditioning assignment. Ludzik said Kevin Weekes will get his 12th consecutive start Monday night against the Stars.

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