Fans protest hockey referee Brad Meier outside the U.S. embassy in Russia. (Voroshirin Dmitriy, Young Guards/AP)
By Allan Muir
For all their differences, hockey fans around the world share one core belief: the officials are out to get their team.
That usually leads to catcalls at the rink and disparaging remarks online, but a Russian protest of referee Brad Meier took that sense of persecution to a whole new level.
Russian hockey journalist Igor Eronko tweeted a photo this morning of an anti-Meier protest sign being held up by picketers at the American Embassy in Moscow. Eronko said that the message roughly translated as Meier needs glasses, "but more rude."
The protestors' anger stems from a disallowed goal in Saturday's round-robin game between the U.S. and Russia. Russian defender Fedor Tyutin appeared to have given the home team a 3-2 in the third period with a wicked point blast that eluded Jonathan Quick. But seconds earlier, the American goalie had knocked the net slightly off its left mooring. Under international rules, the goal could not be allowed.
It probably escaped the attention of the protestors that it was up to the tournament's video review committee, not to the American-born Meier, to make the ultimate call that kept the score at 2-2.
The game remained deadlocked through the third period and a five-minute overtime before T.J. Oshie made himself a household name with four goals on six attempts in the shootout to clinch it for the Americans.
Stunned, the Russians barely rebounded from that loss, needing another shootout to beat an underwhelming Slovakian team 1-0 on Sunday.
The fans had no one to blame but their own team for that one. No signs of protest yet outside of Russian government buildings.