Fraser: A look at Bourque's goal awarded against the Flyers

Kerry Fraser
2/18/2013 2:32:22 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at!

Hi Kerry
Great Column! On Saturday night we saw Rene Bourque hauled down on a breakaway with the Flyer's net empty. He was awarded a goal. Not that we minded a goal, but why was he not awarded a penalty shot? In Rule 24 it explicitly states that a goalie taken out for an extra man can return to his net, implying that this situation is not an automatic goal.
Bruce Mazer

Hi Kerry,

In the last minute of the Montreal vs Philadelphia game on Saturday, how can you explain the automatic goal given to Rene Bourque? The rule is that if a player would have had a penalty shot on the empty net, it's an automatic goal, but I saw nothing that would have warranted a penalty shot for Bourque. Jakub Voracek made a shoulder-to-shoulder check and the only infraction I saw on the play was Bourque elbowing Voracek in the face. I see no reason this should have been called an automatic goal, and how Bourque avoided a penalty.

Alex Williams
When a team pulls a goalie for the extra attacker, are they allowed to re-insert him if the team gets assessed a penalty shot for an infraction? OR: Is it deemed that because the goal was empty that a penalty shot would be awarded against an empty net or a net that was guarded only by a player who was on the ice at the time of the infraction? Is this the reason why the ref in the Habs/Flyers game gave a goal automatically to Bourque even though the puck never crossed the line? That could be a time-saving decision because no one in the NHL would miss a penalty shot on an empty net. Even in the NFL I have never seen a TD awarded without the ball actually caught or carried into the end zone. I have seen them place it on the 1-yard line and most teams can punch it in from there but I have also seen many defences stop the TD or seen other teams fumble the ball away etc. I thought Bourque would get a penalty shot on an empty net or one with a non-goalie player in the crease. Please explain.
Nik Palekar

Dr. Bruce, Alex and Nik:

The goal was awarded to Rene Bourque under rule 57.4 which states, "If, when the opposing goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, a player in control of the puck in the neutral or attacking zone is tripped or otherwise fouled with no opposition between him and the opposing goal, thus preventing a reasonable scoring opportunity, the referee shall immediately stop play and award a goal to the attacking team."

With Flyers goalkeeper Brian Boucher on the bench for an extra attacker, Montreal gained possession of the puck following a faceoff in their end zone through some good grunt work down low by the Habs defense pairing of Raphael Diaz and Josh Georges. Georges eventually poked the puck to Brian Gionta on the right side half-wall and the Canadiens captain immediately wheeled and threw a pass into the high slot and right onto the tape of a streaking Rene Bouque. 

Rene Bourque, in full stride, had no opposing Philadelphia Flyer to pass as he skated through the neutral zone and over the Flyers blue line toward the unattended net. Jakub Voracek attempted to catch Bourque from the opposite side angle but had too much ice to make up to place himself in a position ahead of Bourque. From this deficient position all Voracek could do was to foul Bourque from behind (or off his back shoulder if you wish.) When Rene Bourque felt Voracek grab him from behind, Bourque threw his arm back to fend off the Flyer player which resulted in a pretty good elbow plant on Jake's nose.

Let me provide a bullet point recap to answer other questions that you might have on this or similar plays:

- A goal was immediately awarded the instant that Jakub Voracek fouled Rene Bourque from behind with Brian Boucher removed from the ice for an extra attacker as per Rule 57.4.

- If it was deemed that Rene Bourque deserved an elbowing penalty after initially being fouled from behind by Voracek the awarded goal would stand and a minor penalty would be assessed to Bourque. There are no "offsetting penalties" in this case like you can see in the NFL.

- While highly unlikely, if the referee deemed that Rene Bourque committed the only infraction on the play for elbowing Voracek, the whistle would immediately be blown to assess an elbow infraction to Bourque since the Montreal player had possession of the puck.

- The only way that a penalty shot could be assessed on a play of this nature is if the Flyers goalkeeper was in the net and had not been removed for an extra attacker. Rule 57.3

- Since Rene Bourque was awarded a goal (the puck did not enter the net) how can two assists have been credited on the play to Brian Gionta and Josh Georges?  Answer - Rule 33.2 says, "Assists can be given to deserving players on a goal that has been awarded by the referee, if the official scorer deems that assists would have been given on the eventual goal anyway."  Gionta and Georges made this play happen.

- If a goalkeeper has been removed for an extra attacker and a violation of the rules calls for a penalty shot to be assessed can the offending team put their goalkeeper back in the net to defend against the penalty shot? Answer; Yes as per rule 24.2 - "If at the time a penalty shot is awarded, the goalkeeper of the penalized team has been removed from the ice to substitute another player, the goalkeeper shall be permitted to return to the ice before the penalty shot is taken".  This could only happen where the rules prescribe for a penalty shot to be assessed and not where a goal is "awarded."

- Who can defend against a penalty shot? Only a player designated as a goalkeeper or alternate goalkeeper may defend against the penalty shot. Rule 24.2 (If the alternate goalkeeper replaces their goalkeeper to defend against a penalty shot he must remain in the game until the next stoppage of play.)

In summation, once the goalkeeper has been pulled for an extra attacker, the odds favour that a goal will be awarded for violations that might previously have called for the assessment of a penalty shot under the playing rules.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at!

You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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