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Finnish Leafs forward Kapanen thinks refs made wrong call in women's final

A Finnish forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs thinks his country should have won the world women's hockey championship.

A Finnish forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs thinks his country should have won the world women's hockey championship.

Kasperi Kapanen doesn't understand why a Finland goal in overtime of the final against the United States was waived off after a lengthy review on Sunday. The teams played out the rest of overtime without a goal before the Americans won in a shootout in Espoo, Finland.

"It was a little crazy. I think it should have been a goal ... the goalie's out of her net and they're going to call a penalty anyway," Kapanen said. 

"I think they kind of messed it up ... that's what happens. It is what it is."

Playing in their first final, the Finns celebrated what they thought was a golden goal by Petra Nieminen at 11:33 of the 20-minute overtime. But after video review, the goal was called back.

Finland captain Jenni Hiirikoski had made contact with American goaltender Alex Rigsby, who was moving out of her crease, as she passed in front of the net. Nieminen had a near-empty net at which to shoot.

Hiirikoski wasn't assessed a goaltender interference penalty, but Rigsby was given a tripping minor.

The International Ice Hockey Federation released a statement on Monday, saying the goal was disallowed due to non-incidental goaltender interference.

The IIHF, which had a video goal judge review every goal during the tourney, cited two rules.

One states: "An attacking skater who makes contact other than incidental with a goaltender who is out of his goal crease during game action will be assessed a minor penalty for interference. If a goal is scored at this time, it will not count."

The other states: "Incidental contact is allowed when the goaltender is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease, provided the attacking skater makes a reasonable effort to minimize or avoid such contact."

Taking those two rules into account, the IIHF said the video goal judge determined the goal should be disallowed.

While the refs had called tripping on Rigsby during the play, penalties are not reviewable by the video goal judge. Once the goal was waived off, the referees decided to uphold the original penalty.

Kapanen was watching overtime on Sunday.

"It happened and I thought they'd won," he said before the Leafs faced the visiting Boston Bruins in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal on Monday night. "I was really happy for them."

Canada and the U.S. have won every Olympic and world championship gold in women's hockey, so a Finnish win would have been new territory for the sport.

"It would have been nice for them to win," said Kapanen, who celebrated a world junior title on home ice in 2016. "It would have been good for women's hockey, and just our country in general.

"It's unfortunate."

Kapanen wasn't the only one confused by the call.

Former American women's team captain Julie Chu tweeted, "What is going onnnnn? If it's not a goal, then Finland should have a penalty for goalie interference. If it's a goal, then it means USA tripped Finland and the Finnish goal is good...? If it's no goal, then how does USA have penalty? Someone help me?? honest question."

Former Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser tweeted, "That. Was. A. Goal. #suomi."

The officiating crew in Sunday's final consisted of referees Nicole Hertrich of Germany and Lacey Senuk of Canada, and linespersons Veronica Lovenso of Sweden and Justine Todd of Canada.

Finland coach Pasi Mustonen said he received no explanation from officials about the penalty calls or the decision that came out of the video review.

"They never come to me. They are ordered not to talk," Mustonen said Sunday after the final. "They never can communicate, which means they destroy the atmosphere between the referees and the teams.

"They don't really have the self-confidence that is needed to communicate with people in this atmosphere and that is the problem, which is also a matter of competence. We need male referees.

"All the female referees that are mature enough to be here, naturally, they should be here, but there are so few in the world."

Mustonen said the video judge in the game was Germany's Manuela Groeger-Schneider.

"There are two possibilities," Mustonen said. "Goalie lost the puck, took a leap after the puck and hit Jenni Hiirikoski's feet. Jenni was clearly outside the area. If they think that was Jenni who attacked the goalie, she has to get two minutes penalty.

"She didn't. If they give a penalty to the goalie, as they did, the goal is a good goal according to the information I got."

Hiirikoski did not think she had illegally interfered with the American.

"No, I didn't," Hiirikoski said. "She came out from her crease. What can you do? We don't make the decisions."

Rigsby saw it a different way.

"Right away, I knew that it wasn't a goal," Rigsby said. "I was trying to cover up the rebound and I got taken out.

"And so for me to get interfered with like that and then they score, I knew right away that it was not a goal.

"I was trying to ask the ref how I got a penalty, considering I was the one who got body-slammed. But the ref thinks I tried tripping the player when I was on the ground, and somehow I end up with the penalty. Funny how that went."

Finnish Ice Hockey Federation chief executive officer Matti Nurminen said after the game referees were giving a penalty to Rigsby for tripping and were allowing the goal.

"But when it goes to video review, the power and authority goes the video-goal judges," he said. "They saw it as goalie interference and made that decision.

"IIHF president Rene Fasel said it was a judgment call. If you show it to 100 hockey persons, some per cent say it was a goal and some say it wasn't."

— with files from Joshua Clipperton in Toronto and Donna Spencer in Espoo, Finland.

The Canadian Press