Chalk Talk: Passionate parents, coaches need to stay within reason
I have always been told as an official that you should always have your officiating gear close by or at least in your car – you never know when you show up at the rink that you may be asked to officiate.
I currently work part time at the local rink, so I know there are times that officials will not show or the scheduler receives the wrong information in regards to the game times. My supervisor does not allow us to officiate and work at the same time, regardless of the circumstances. This is called double dipping and I totally agree with him and therefore, I usually do not bring my officiating gear to work.
That stated, the Silver Stick tournament is one of the biggest in Colorado and on the first day recently, no officials showed up. The scheduler and the rink miscommunicated. I called my supervisor, told him the situation and got his approval to work this one game.
This was a Squirt B game, so all I had to do now was find some used officiating equipment. Although I could not find any official referee equipment I did find a pair of rental skates, a used helmet, rink monitor jacket and a whistle. No shin or elbow pads and wearing jeans. Old school, just as we did when we played “shinny” in grade school with one referee.
I stepped out on the ice and communicated to both coaches the situation. I know they looked at me with uneasy skepticism, but it was better than starting the game late or not having the game at all.
There was a full crowd and within a few minutes of the game, I could tell this was going to be a very intense game. For the first time in my career, I could actually hear the spectators as they cheered/yelled at their respective teams. A couple of minutes in, I called my first penalty for body checking and the cheering/yelling was now directed towards me – comments such as “Who is this clown?” and other comments that cannot be printed. I probably called 4-5 obvious penalties in the first five minutes and now the coaches started in on me.
“Hey ref, there is no delayed off-sides and you need to call it both ways, moron.”
OK, he was right, I forgot there’s no delayed off-sides, but name calling is not appropriate at this level. Finally, after the period was over, I went over to the coaches and told them, “Hey, look, I am the Zamboni driver and this game would not be taking place right now unless I got on the ice, so back off on the comments and coach your kids.” After that, we no longer had any problems and we finished a hard-fought game between two very competitive teams.
I have officiated over 500 collegiate and professional hockey games in my career and this experience shed some light on what it is like to referee at the grassroots level. I forgot that there are parents out there who are extremely passionate about their son’s and daughter’s game of hockey – maybe more so than their kids’ passion of the game. There are coaches out there that may have forgotten that the game of hockey is supposed to be fun. Trying to teach a trap or a 1-3-1 power play may not be relevant at the Squirt B level. I also learned that the pressure of refereeing a Squirt B game may be more difficult than it looks.
Finally, I learned that there is a reason why you may or may not want to keep your officiating gear close by.
Kristopher Schoech is a working official and scheduler/supervisor for the Colorado Ice Hockey Referee Association and currently works for the National Hockey League as a video goal judge for the Colorado Avalanche.