Referee Joy Tottman

Referee Joy Tottman

The USA vs. Canada Gold Medal game for women’s ice hockey in the 2014 Sochi Olympics was referee Joy Johnston (nee Tottman)’s first championship game.   It might also be her last.

First off, I’m not blaming the referee for the Team USA loss.  The Americans had a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes to play and needed to shut the door.  Even without interference from the linesman that nearly led to an empty net goal, they should have won.

They didn’t.  Unfortunately, the loss is on them.

That doesn’t excuse referee Joy Tottman for what happened in overtime.  After a well-officiated, tightly-called sixty minutes, things fell apart quickly in overtime.


Canada’s Catherine Ward goes off for two minutes on a legit cross-checking call after clearing USA away from the crease.  Good call.


Team USA’s Jocelyn Lamoureux taps the pads of goaltender Shannon Szabados. She’s hit with a two-minute slashing penalty.  This one seemed ridiculous.  It was a light hit, and the whistle hadn’t blown.  I could see a warning, but two minutes in overtime?

It felt like a make-up call — like the referee was so worried that an overtime power play goal would decide the game that she’d rather even it up.   A terrible call.   Buffalo’s Christian Ehrhoff agreed:


With the teams skating four aside, a bad turnover led to a breakaway for Canadian legend Hayley Wickenheiser.

Canada/USA Gold Medal Game - Wickenheiser Goes Down

(via @PeteBlackburn)

Hilary Knight nearly caught her. If anything, it looks like their skates accidentally collided.  That’s what Craig Button saw, too:

Let’s give referee Joy Tottman the benefit of the doubt on this one.  She didn’t get the benefit of multiple camera angles or replay.  Since Wickenheiser was on a breakaway and appeared to be fouled from behind, she made the call that she felt was accurate — as a referee should do — and awarded a penalty shot.

What?  She didn’t?  Oh, no, that’s right.  She gave USA a two-minute penalty for cross-checking.  Assuming Knight cross-checked her, she did it from behind, which would justify a penalty shot.

For the record, Knight says she never even made contact:

Nonetheless, cross-checking was the call and Hilary Knight headed off the ice.


Canada scored just 39 seconds later to claim their fourth straight Olympic gold. Their hard-fought comeback should be commended.  Instead, it’ll be eclipsed by the questionable officiating that surrounded it.

“We got the call late in the game,” said Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser. “The ref was a factor all night and it worked out for our favor in the end.”

It’s unfortunate, because the refereeing controversy takes away from what Canada was able to do.  It also absolves Team USA of their late-game collapse that allowed the overtime to even take place.

Just because the loss wasn’t the referee’s fault doesn’t mean the referee’s not at fault.  (Sorry, Joy.)

Much like the USA hockey team, let’s hope referee Joy Tottman puts this moment behind her.