The Phantom Goal

First, let me share with you my exact notes from the end of the most wild — and confusing — games I’ve ever seen: WTF?! We win!And as I sit here —  20 minutes after referee Marco Hunt pointed to center ice in triumph, officially announcing UVM’s second ever trip the Frozen Four and capping off the weirdest finish to a game I’ve ever seen — I’m still not sure I know what to say. But here goes nothing…By now you’ve probably seen the “phantom goal” — I still have yet to see a replay — but let me take you through the final agonizing moments leading up to the shocking conclusion of a UVM victory.We’re in double overtime. I’m sitting in the press box above our superhero goalie Rob Madore chewing that weird fleshy patch where my nails used to be and completely ignoring the “no cheering in the press box” etiquette I’ve been taught to oblige.After 90 minutes of hockey, the game has ceased to be entertaining to me. At this point, it’s life or death — we must win. Or I might cry — and you know how I cry sometimes.Just then, sophomore Dan Lawson rips a shot on the far side of the ice at approximately 400 mph. It almost looks like it goes in — but play continues.So close, I think to myself, noting briefly that the net appeared to move after the shot. But I was so far away from the play — I really had no clue.About a minute later, the officials gathered and referee Marco Hunt made a trip towards the review TV.We in the press box are baffled at this point. “What the hell are they reviewing?” I asked fellow Cynic staffer Dakota Rubin — his guess was as good as mine. After what felt like a lifetime, but was actually 10 minutes, other reporters in the box started flipping out on their phones. “It went in! It went in! They’re going to count it!” yelled one delirious reporter.The rumor was out, and then my own phone started blowing up — and it sounded like all the hearsay was true — we were going to the Frozen Four.When Hunt pointed to the ice, I almost puked up the eight bags of chips and media-catered cheesecake I consumed before the game.Holy crap — we won. We actually won.I’m from Burlington — I’ve lived here my whole life — and I remember watching ESPN2 13 years ago, the last time UVM made the Frozen Four. We lost that game on a controversial hand-pass no-call — also in double over time — and when you’re a kid and sports are the world to you, that’s the type of hurt that you remember.Now, more than decade later, I get to say I was there when the karma police finally undid years of wrong-doing — the “hand-pass game” has finally been replaced by the “phantom goal game.”And as much as I still remember the hurt from that loss, I will remember the jubilation of this victory — a victory that I just happened to be at just two months before I graduate.How do you like ‘dem apples?