Why you can’t re-stage overtime the ref forgot

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Sport lives, thrives and turns on decisions made in an instant.

A wrong call, a mis-timed pass, a tactical error can change seasons as well as individual matches, but going back and trying to right a wrong doesn’t work.

For that reason alone, the EIHL are wrong to pick up the overtime referee Dean Smith forgot about at the end of a 3-3 Challenge Cup tie between Edinburgh Capitals and Belfast Giants, and play it immediately before the two teams meet again this weekend on league business.

It cannot recreate the moment or the momentum of a close 60 minutes of hockey which ended in a tie.

To take the missing element and then bolt it on to the start of a different fixture in a different competition days later is illogical.

One argument is that the extra point could impact on who ultimately qualifies, and this was not the fault of either team - fair enough, but this is artificially amending the outcome instead of adhering the golden rule of officiating which is thus: The referee is right, Even when he’s wrong, the referee is right.

There is no doubt, stripey Dean Smith got it wrong, and credit to him for tweeting his culpability and apologising - no waffle, just a simple ‘’sorry, I messed up’’ message.

He’ll be ribbed about this by his fellow stripeys for the remainder of the season, but he isn’t the first one to forget which format was to be in place on any given night, and hockey seems to have an inability to have a rule book handy by the timekeepers’ bench or access to a phone to get clear guidance … or even think about Googling the rules?

This isn’t the first time it’s happened over the years - seem to recall Fife Flyers went through the daft nonsense of playing an OT winner after warm-up before then supposedly getting that outcome out of their heads, returning immediately to the face-off and dropping the puck to start another match altogether.

The EIHL should have let the score stand and not go down the road of OT and possibly even penalty shots tonight.

Mistakes change seasons and, sure, this may well impact down the line, but so too might a howler of a miss from your star forward, a suspension on your enforcer your goalie stinking the rink out, or your coach making a hash of his lines; all among the many imponderables which make sport so compelling and so unpredictable.

Six years ago Thierry Henry’s blatant handball goal denied the Republic of Ireland a place in the World Cup finals and sparked uproar. Amid bitter and heated debate much was said, but the game, and its result stood.

All FIFA could - should - have done was punish the player, because to act in retrospect to amend the result goes against everything sport is about.

Hockey has a habit of trying to right wrongs in occasions such as OT not being played.

It shouldn’t. Instead it should make sure refs, and teams, know the score long before the kit is unpacked, let alone a puck is dropped.