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Extra ice sheets help boost Minuteman Lady Flames

02/13/2013, 2:15pm MST
By Mike Scandura

It’s understandable if other New England-based girls’ hockey organizations are envious of the Minuteman Lady Flames.
The Lady Flames, who were founded in 2001, play their home games in arguably the region’s premier facility: the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. It includes six NCAA-regulation ice surfaces under one roof, replete with several locker rooms, a pro shop and a concession stand.
“By having a facility of this nature, we’re able to have practices at reasonable hours,” Lady Flames general manager Garry Holmes said. “For example, we can practice between 5:30 and 9 p.m. instead of, say, 6 a.m. 
“Obviously, we’re able to offer attractive times for practices and games. The number of ice sheets is without question a tremendous help.”
The New England Sports Center also has done something else that’s impacted the growth of the Lady Flames.
The organization only had three teams during its initial 2001-02 season. Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, it’s expanded to 10 teams. The teams range from 8-and-Under to 19-and-Under (some age groups include minor and major teams) and encompass over 150 girls.
This season the Lady Flames play in the Eastern Hockey Federation and the New England Girls Hockey League.
Earlier this season the U-10 Lady Flames went 5-0 en route to capturing the Connecticut Polar Bear championship. In addition the same team annexed the Cape Cod Waves Cranberry Classic 10 C title. And last season the U-12 Lady Flames advanced to nationals.
The organization runs a Sparks Cross-Ice Program, which, in effect, is a combination learn-to-skate/learn-to-play hockey program for girls who are five and six years old on Sunday mornings.
“We’re fortunate to have [NESC Alternate Director] Wes Tuttle,” Holmes said. “He’s allowed us to run free learn-to-skate programs in the summer. One year we expected maybe 15 or 16 girls to show up but we wound up with over 40.
“As girls progress through learn to skate, they develop passion for the game. And there’s nothing better than having that cross-ice program. It’s so much better than skating in circles and going through typical drills. It gives the girls a chance to develop their hockey skills.”
Realistically not every girl who plays for the Lady Flames will make her high school team let alone play hockey in college. But the program provides girls with the opportunity to develop their skills so they may be able to continue playing hockey.
“The program is geared toward girls who want to play high school hockey either at a private school or a public high school,” Holmes said. “It also prepares them if they want to play hockey after graduating high school.
“When the program began, we only had three teams and they were young teams. Since then, we’ve had several girls go on and play hockey in college at the Division I and Division III levels.”
While developing skills is an obvious part of the Lady Flames’ philosophy, an emphasis also is placed on developing character.
“The goals of the program always have been to develop young women with character, self-confidence and leaderships skills,” Holmes said. “Hard work, discipline, teamwork and friendships are other life lessons we feel are taught by a great game.”
The Lady Flames have become so popular that their membership extends beyond the borders of Massachusetts and into neighboring states like Connecticut and Rhode Island.
“This speaks well of our organization that so many girls from Connecticut and Rhode Island have made commitments,” Holmes said. “Some kids come from as far away as Pomfret [Conn.] and may encounter rush-hour traffic.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Update on 2015-16 USA Hockey Officiating Registration

07/08/2015, 5:15pm MDT
By David LaBuda, USA Hockey National Referee-in-Chief

District Referees-in-Chief implement changes to registration procedures

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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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