Refs need to be just as good as women's play

The most disappointing thing about the U.S.-Canada women's hockey game on Wednesday was not the result, but rather the quality of the officiating.

The referees failed to whistle a couple of too-many-players-on-the-ice infractions by Canada, and at least one icing by the U.S., but that's small stuff. And while you could argue that they should have disallowed the third-period goal that trickled over the line a nanosecond before the whistle, the reality is that the whistle was blown too early by referee Anna Eskola of Finland.

No, what was really troublesome was that the refs constantly got in the way of play. Canada's third goal was an indirect result of a referee disrupting the flow. The quality of the officiating needs to keep pace with the quality of the playing, which is only getting faster, more physical and more skillful.

These women deserve the best possible officiating -- and if that means adding another striped shirt, which ironically would improve traffic, or making assignments based more on ability than on nationality or gender, then Olympic officials should consider it.

People should be walking away from the game marveling at the speed, skill and power of women's hockey, and not muttering about the zebras.