ST. LOUIS — The biggest moments of Kevin Lynch’s hockey career have been spent waiting. Friday was one of those moments.
The No. 2 seed Michigan hockey team’s NCAA Tournament first round game against Nebraska-Omaha went into overtime. Just two and a half minutes in, the sophomore forward whacked at a shot that bounced off the boards and back in front. The puck went off Maverick goaltender John Faulkner, off a defenseman, through Faulkner’s legs and disappeared.
Lynch stopped playing. He put his stick in the air and pointed to the goal.
“I saw the puck go under the goalie’s legs and I knew it was in,” Lynch said in the post-game press conference.
The referee blew the whistle, stopping the play for no reason in particular and then the waiting began. As referee Chip McDonald donned the headset and squatted down to look at the video monitor inside the penalty box, Kevin Lynch waited.
He waited the same way he waited last year. With a trip to the Frozen Four on the line against Miami (Ohio), Lynch knocked in a goal that squirted through RedHawk goalie Connor Knapp’s legs in overtime. But the referee blew the whistle before the goal went in, calling a penalty and claiming Knapp had possession.
Lynch knew that one was in too. He threw his arms in the air and turned to the refs. The refs convened with Lynch by the bench looking on to see if he scored the biggest goal of his career.
It was a short and one-sided review. No goal. The crowd booed, the Michigan bench was upset and they played on.
“That’s a tough one to swallow,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said after the Miami game. “You can’t win on those calls. Even if he didn’t blow the whistle, he could have said he meant to blow the whistle.”
A year later, inside the Scottrade Center, Michigan couldn’t play on. The crowd couldn’t boo. They could just wait as McDonald brought in his partner Harry Dumas into the penalty box to take a look.
“There was a kid behind the penalty box saying it was a goal,” senior forward Louie Caporusso said. “He just kept saying, ‘It’s a goal.’ ”
The kid behind the penalty box knew and for the second year in a row, Lynch knew. But both could just wait along with both teams and the rest of the arena.
“It was definitely the worst wait of my life,” Nebraska-Omaha forward Rich Purslow said.
Lynch stood by the bench. He did a couple of circles of circles to pass the 10 minutes it took to review the goal. Somehow Lynch ended up on the far side of the ice, directly across from the Nebraska-Omaha bench.
McDonald finally took the headset off and stepped onto the ice. Lynch had coasted up to the blue line watching McDonald. As McDonald straightened his arm, Lynch turned, gave a fist pump and was one of the first to mob senior goalie Shawn Hunwick.
“When it took them that long to review it I kind of figured they were going to call it a goal,” Lynch said.
This time, the wait was worth it.