Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy Birthday Baker Rink

Yesterday was the 236th anniversary of the Battle of Princeton in the Revolutionary War.

Tomorrow is the 90th anniversary of the opening of Hobey Baker Rink.

TigerBlog will get back to both of those shortly.

First, there's the little matter of the Arizona-Colorado basketball game from last night.

If you missed it, Colorado was looking for a huge statement win on the road against the unbeaten and third-ranked Wildcats. And they got it. Maybe.

Colorado led by as many 17, including 10 with less than three minutes to go, so too much sympathy for the Buffs TigerBlog doesn't have. Still, Sabatino Chen appeared to save the day for CU when he drained a three at the buzzer, apparently making it an 83-80 win.

Except the refs went to the monitor and said that Chen's shot came after the clock showed all zeroes. As a result, they waved it off and sent the game to overtime, where Arizona blew Colorado out, winning 92-83.

The replay of Chen's shot shows that it was definitely close. It also looked in full speed like he got it off in time. Slowed down frame by frame, it's really impossible to tell, though everyone in the building reacted like they knew it was good.

TigerBlog hates instant replay in college basketball for so many reasons.

There will be five-minute delays in games to determine whether the shot clock should be reset with the score 12-9 early in the first half. There will be different sets of rules between games that have TV and games that don't.

Mostly, he hates the way it makes the refs a bigger part of the game than they should be. TigerBlog can't help but wonder how many stoppages wouldn't be stoppages if they didn't put all the focus onto the officials.

After last night's game, TB had two thoughts:

1) would the refs have made the same call had the game been at Colorado?
2) Colorado coach Tad Boyle said this: Get rid of instant replay. In basketball, football, human error is part of our game. If human error is part of the game, let the officials call the game. Players, coaches and officials will make mistakes. ... We spend all this money on replays and we still can't get it right. Get rid of it. TB agrees, but he feels like maybe Boyle wouldn't have said that had he gotten the call.

Anyway, college basketball - and NFL football - would be way better without instant replay.

So where were we?

Oh yeah. The Battle of Princeton.

Back on Jan. 3, 1777, George Washington - fresh off his first major success, which came in Trenton on Christmas Day - attacked the British rear guard, after the rest of the British army thought Washington would try to escape back across the Delaware.

The battle would end when what was left of the British force was trapped in, of all places, Nassau Hall, from where they surrendered. The British then bailed on New Jersey, and Washington settled into Morristown for the winter (if you drive up 287, you can go see where he and his troops went, and if you're like TB can wonder how in the world they got there).

After that stretch between Trenton and Princeton, the American army was revived from the brink, while the British morale began to go the other way. In many ways, the turning point of the American Revolution happened just down the Princeton Pike, on a piece of land TB drives past about 1,000 times a week, and where Princeton used to run cross country races.

That's the first piece of history for today.

The second piece is that Baker Rink opened on Jan. 5, 1923. It is the second-oldest hockey rink in Division I, behind Northeastern's Matthews Arena, which opened in 1910.

It was 90 years ago tomorrow that Princeton defeated the St. Hicks Hockey Club 3-2 and then 90 years ago Sunday that Princeton defeated MIT 9-0 in the second game in the building.

This weekend, Princeton will also play two games in two days at Baker Rink, though against two different opponents. Tonight it will be Harvard who is at Princeton for a 7 pm face-off, and then tomorrow afternoon at 4 it'll be Dartmouth. You can Skate With The Tigers after the Dartmouth game.

The men's hockey team played 12 games in 43 days to start the season and since then has played just two games - last weekend at Vermont - in 27 days. The Tigers now play four games in eight days (two this weekend, home next weekend with RPI and Union) and then are off for two more weeks for first semester exams.

After that, it's the usual rush through the end of the season and into the ECAC playoffs.

Princeton is currently 2-3-3 in the league, which adds up to seven points and makes Princeton one of seven teams in the 12-team league with seven, eight or nine points. Quinnipiac is running away with it at a perfect 8-0-0 to this point.

The goals, as always, are to get a first-round bye by finishing in the top four or, failing that, get home ice in the first round by finishing fifth through eighth. The ECAC final four this year is again in Atlantic City.

ECAC hockey, by the way, has effective instant replay, with cameras mounted above goals. TB is okay with that, he supposes, and he definitely wants replay in the next World Cup for soccer.

Everywhere else? Let it go. It's not doing what it was supposed to do, which is to overturn totally horrible calls.

Sadly, replay is going to increase, not decrease, as technology evolves.

It's not good for the games, at least not how it's done now.

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