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Niagara Junior Purple Eagles take a lead in on-ice and off-ice issues

04/02/2013, 2:00pm MDT
By Mike Scandura

What happens on the ice is one thing.
 
What happens off the ice is another.
 
That’s why the Niagara Junior Purple Eagles, in conjunction with the New York State Amateur Hockey Association, have implemented a no-hazing policy.
 
Through awareness, education and supervision, hazing is banned of any participant involved with any USA Hockey-sanctioned program, hockey clinic, regional tournament, national tournament, coaches’ clinic and referee clinic.
 
Moreover, this applies to volunteers as well as organization employees.
 
“We’ve gone with it all the way across the board,” Junior Purple Eagles Girls’ Director Vicky Maslona said. “It’s been a boon to the organization in terms of putting the minds of the kids and parents at ease.”
 
The Niagara Junior Purple Eagles also were ahead of the curve when it came to implementing USA Hockey’s American Development Model.
 
“As soon as it came out, New York State recommended it and we went with it even before it was mandatory,” Maslona said. “We already got a pretty good jump on it. Our 6-Under, 7-Under and 8-Under girls participate in the ADM.
 
“We’ve found it improves the girls’ skating skills as compared with kids that came out of the old program. We have more girls sticking with it. We have a good number of girls in our 10-U program who initially participated in the ADM. A lot of girls who are 6, 7 and 8 have become good little skaters because of that program. Otherwise, I don’t think their skating skills would be as strong.”

A girls’ program was added to the Junior Purple Eagles prior to the 2007-08 season through the efforts of Maslona’s predecessor, Bob Schiffhauer.
 
“Bob started the program and did a ton of work for it,” Maslona said. “But, eventually, his daughter aged out, and I’m in my first year [as the Girls’ Director].”
 
This season the Junior Purple Eagles have girls’ travel teams at the 12-U and 14-U levels plus a 10-U house program.
 
Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena is their home rink and the travel teams play in the Great Lakes Girls Hockey League.
 
Unfortunately for the Junior Purple Eagles, Niagara dropped its women’s hockey program after the 2011-12 season.
 
“That really was unfortunate because they had been very good with our girls,” Maslona said.
 
One way the organization has attempted to get more girls interested in playing hockey has been by holding a free instructional program.
 
“The instructional program is for girls at any age and where they can learn basic hockey skills,” Maslona said. “That’s four weeks for free.
 
“If parents’ children like it, they can pay for the rest of the season. It’s primarily for parents who aren’t sure if their children will like hockey.”
 
As if to underscore the popularity of that instructional program, Maslona’s voice perks up when discussing the 10-U team.
 
“What’s given me a lot of satisfaction is the number of girls that signed up for the 10-U program which was started last season,” she said. “We ended up having 17 girls sign up, and the fact they’re excited for next year is a great sign for the program.”
 
Another incentive is the fact the New York Girls Ice Hockey Federation was formed for the 2010-11 season, which meant high schools could offer girls’ hockey programs, which wasn’t the case in prior years.
 
“I hope they’ll see that girls are able to play hockey,” Maslona said. “That’s why we had fewer girls playing. They think that girls dance and boys play hockey.
 
“Once kids play hockey, they get hooked on the sport. I’m hoping that the number of young girls we have will stick with it as they get older.”
 
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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As we enter the 2015-16 registration season for officials, I want to give an update of what changes to expect this season.

The Officials Section has been busy since the 2015 Winter Meeting, working on implementing the registration changes that were discussed and voted on by the district referees-in-chief, along with refining the testing and online seminar programs.

REGISTRATION INFORMATION
For 2015-16, there will be an informational video available before an official registers with USA Hockey outlining the requirements and commitment that an individual will need to fulfill in order to complete their registration.

REGISTRATION PROCESS

Next, and a very important change, starting with this season, in order to register for a seminar, an official will have to first register as an official (online) with USA Hockey in order to gain access to the online program to register for a seminar.

This change was due to a number of individuals who would never register as an official with USA Hockey and then ‘no show’ to the seminar that they registered for, which frequently led to other registered officials being denied attendance at that seminar because the seating capacity had already been reached.

This change will provide more incentive for every individual who registers as an official -- and registers for a seminar -- to attend that seminar and complete the registration requirements.

EXAM PROCESS
The open-book testing process has also been modified for the coming season. What hasn’t changed is that a Level 1 official will still have to answer the first 50 questions, while Level 2, 3 & 4 officials will have to answer 100 questions. However, the passing score for a Level 2 official has been modified to 80 from 85. All other passing scores remain the same as last year. Those minimum passing scores are 35 for a Level 1 official and 90 for Levels 3 and 4.

While an official is taking the open-book exam, there will be immediate feedback provided after each answer is submitted. If the question was answered incorrectly, the rule reference for that missed question will be given with the appropriate rule book language.

After completing all of the required questions, a summary will be sent of all incorrect responses with their rule references. If a passing score is obtained, then the open-book exam requirement will be complete.

If the result is a failing score, after the seven-day waiting period has passed, the official will only have to retake those questions that were incorrectly answered on their first open-book exam. The retake questions will be based on the same rule reference as the originally missed questions, but will cover a different aspect of the rule.

Once all of the retake questions are answered, the number of correctly answered retake questions will be added to the original test score to hopefully obtain a passing grade. As a reminder, there is no third attempt to pass the open-book exam.

IN-CLASS SEMINARS & ONLINE EDUCATION UPDATES
During the winter meeting, the Officials Section spent considerable time discussing seminar program feedback, and in particular, the online modules. All feedback was taken seriously and an action plan was discussed and adopted.


Two work groups were established to address the new classroom curriculums and to improve the online video modules. Both were comprised of grassroots members who could bring a grassroots perspective to their work. Both groups have completed their work and their recommendations have been adopted. The new shortened classroom curriculums have been distributed for application to this coming seminar season and the online modules are being re-engineered with improved formatting, better sequencing, animation replacing some video clips and reduction of music and voice-overs to allow the viewer to better focus on the presented material.

We’ve also evaluated the number of required modules for each level, and based on the user analytics that the first years’ experience produced, we have reduced the number of required modules in some cases.

Lastly, as a reminder, once an official begins their first online module, they will need to complete all of their online module training within a specified time period. The online module completion time periods are 60 days for Level 1 registered officials and 45 days for Levels 2, 3 and 4. If all of the required and elective modules are not completed within the specified time frame, the official will have to restart all of the module training from the beginning. This requirement was waived during last year’s registration season due to the delayed rollout of the online module program, but it’s back in place this year.

This completion requirement was put in place by the District RICs to encourage all officials to complete their registration as early as possible and to provide continuity in the overall seminar education process.

SUMMARY
As a reminder, to complete an official’s registration an applicant must:

  • Register online with USA Hockey
  • Register and attend a classroom seminar (reduced attendance times depending on registration level)
  • Complete the required and elective online training modules within the required time frame
  • Pass the open-book exam at their registration level
  • Pass the closed-book exam (no closed-book exam at Level 1) for their registration level
  • Complete their online USA Hockey SafeSport training at the end of every two-year cycle

 

Work will continue on improving our educational programs, and as always, we will continue actively listening to your constructive feedback. Without your involvement and support as a community, we cannot continue moving forward.  Acknowledging that improvements were needed was only one step in the process.  Implementing those changes in a way that meets the needs of our officiating community is the next step and we’re excited to be taking that step.

Have a great 2015-16 season and as always, skate hard and have fun when you’re on the ice.

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