We’ve had some bizarre goals in this year’s Olympics – from goals disallowed from dislodged nets to goals missed entirely.  In Sunday’s game against Finland, Canada scored what would have been one of the strangest goals of the year.

A point shot from Alex Pietrangelo deflected off a stick and went high in the air before coming to rest atop the net. With no whistle blown and the puck still in play, Canadian forward Rick Nash chopped at the netting, sending the puck over the crossbar, where it bounced off Finnish netminder Tuukka Rask and into the net for a goal.

Canada/Finland - Rick Nash No-Goal

Nash’s No-Goal for Team Canada  (GIF via @PeteBlackburn)

The goal was waved off on the ice, and video review confirmed the no-goal call.

It appeared the referee and video review judges determined that Nash made contact with the puck – not just the net – when he whacked the top of the goal cage.

Per the IIHF Rulebook:

Video Replay:  6.) To determine if the puck was struck with a high stick, above the height of the crossbar, by an attacking player, prior to the puck entering the net.

And the IIHF rule about this – with a perfect example situation stright from the IIHF Case Book:

IIHF RULE 481: Puck on Net – When the puck is lodged in the outside netting of the goal net for more than three seconds […] the referee shall stop the play and faceoff the puck.


Interpretation from the IIHF Case Book:  Players are permitted to play or knock or scoop the puck off the back of the goal netting providing the time lapse is no more than three seconds.

Here’s the specific situation (Rule 481, Situation 2, also from the IIHF Case Book):

The puck drops on the top netting of the goal net of the defending team, but before the Referee blows the whistle, a player from the attacking team knocks the puck off from the top netting with his stick and then scores a goal

Ruling: If the player knocked the puck off without a high sticking infraction and he was not in the goal crease at the moment the puck dropped into the crease, the goal shall be allowed.

Not only does the rule line up with Nash’s play today, but the sample situation matches perfectly.  That leaves the only argument whether Nash played the puck with a high stick.

RULE 471:  DISALLOWING A GOAL – No goal should be allowed: 2) If an attacking player contacted the puck with his stick above the crossbar.

That appears to be what happened, though no official explanation was given.  From the Winnipeg Free Press:

Canadian coach Mike Babcock said he did not get an explanation from the officials. “They just waved it off,” he said after the game. But Babcock said he thought it would be waved off because “as soon as it’s on top of the net, the easy way out is it’s no goal.”

If Nash had hit the net from below or behind, the goal should have been deemed legal. The review apparently  determined that Nash made contact with the puck directly and that his stick was above the crossbar at the time contact was made.

Canada went on to score the opening goal later in the first period, ultimately defeating the Finns 2-1 in overtime.   Referees for the game were Antonin Jerabek (Czech Republic) and Kevin Pollock (Canada/NHL).