It was no way to lose a playoff game. Just ask Buffalo Wings coach and general manager Lou Franceschetti.
Franceschetti had to be restrained by players after the game, as he confronted an official about a penalty call in the final seconds that led to the Wings' 7-6 playoff loss in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday. Buffalo was eliminated by the host Hawks in Major League Roller Hockey's Great Lakes Division championship game.
"I wasn't going to hit him (referee Derrick Woodworth)," Franceschetti said Friday night from his home in Toronto. "The players did not have to get in between us. I know I have too much to lose. I would never strike anybody. I got in his face, but I never touched him."
Buffalo had tied the game, 6-6, with 35.6 seconds left on Mark Major's third goal of the game. On the ensuing faceoff, the Wings mounted another rally, but the Hawks were able to break out of the zone. Buffalo's John Vecchiarelli was called for tripping away from the play.
That gave Columbus a power play and Arturs Kupak scored the winner with 10 seconds to play.
"I reacted the way I did because it happened in the last 18 seconds of the game," Franceschetti said. "I didn't like to see an official decide a game of that stature in the last 30 seconds when both teams worked their rear ends off, and it had to be decided on a call of that manner."
When he returned to Buffalo's bench after his protest, Franceschetti knocked down every loose object in sight, including the penalty box table, curtains and steel support rod. The outburst also claimed two camera lenses of the Hawks team photographer.
Many in a crowd of 900 harassed Franceschetti, which led to him throwing a water bottle and ice at them. Hawks security officials needed five minutes to restore order in Battelle Hall.
Franceschetti described the call as "nickel-dime" and "a total home job." As a result of its win, Columbus advanced to the final four of the playoffs Aug. 25-26 in Anaheim, Calif. The Hawks have video of Franceschetti's tirade and are sending it to the league for review, according to a story in the Columbus Dispatch.
"I did it out of frustration for myself and to let people know it was a bad call," Franceschetti said. "What am I going to do, punch my fist through a wall? It's not like I tore down unmovable objects."
Franceschetti was also upset that just two officials worked the game instead of the standard three. The Wings lost despite overcoming deficits of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2.
Franceschetti, a fifth-round pick of the Washington Capitals in 1978, is a veteran of 450 National Hockey League games. This was his first season as coach and GM for the Wings, who finished the year 11-8-1.