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Hockey a path to recovery

07/23/2008, 10:45am MDT
By Cameron Eickmeyer

When Sergeant Andrew Hill suffered a combat injury in Afghanistan that shattered his right ankle, fractured vertebrae in his back and neck and caused a severe thumb injury, the physical cost was a loss of 70 percent mobility in his foot and the multiple surgeries to repair the damage.
The mental cost was the loss of the ability to participate in some of the activities he loved. The Minnesota native said he had to deal with the possibility that he wouldn’t “touch the ice again” to play the sport he loves.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to play hockey again,” Hill said.
When the recently created USA Wounded Warriors Ice Hockey program began in Washington, D.C., to service injured soldiers and get them back on the ice, Hill jumped at the opportunity.
“Hockey is in my blood and I didn’t want to stop,” he said.
Hill now serves on the program’s Board of Directors and helps with recruitment. He plays for the team, and said the USA Warriors enabled him to work past the injury physically and mentally.
“Most of us have been gaining the ability to do something again or to do it with a different part of our body,” Hill said. “It’s a return to what you once were and what you thought you’d never be able to do it again.”

The important thing to Hill is that the USA Warriors treat the soldiers as hockey players first and gives them an outlet to forget about their injuries for a little while. One coach, Steve Monahan, made a specific impression on Hill.
“He doesn’t look at soldiers as 'injuries.' He just gives us drills and tells us to do it,” Hill said.
Mike Hickey, who serves as a vice president with the USA Warriors, said the overall goal of the program is to help the soldiers through rehabilitation.
“To provide these guys with a form of rehabilitation, which connects directly to playing ice hockey and being involved in ice hockey, will help them get on with their lives with as much normalcy as possible,” Hickey said.
Joe Bowser, who plays standing amputee hockey, said the rehabilitation emphasis is crucial to helping him recover from his injury.
“It helps me by transferring my weight from my good leg to my amputated one without thinking about it,” he said. When you first lose your leg it is very difficult to trust an object that isn't yours. So you often compensate by putting most of your weight on the strong side.
“Skating also helps strengthen your core because of the balancing you have to do in order to skate,” he added.
The team is in its first year, and has set its goals first on establishing a base of players in Washington, D.C., and growing awareness about the team through local leagues and promotions. Hickey said he hopes to enter a team in the Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Adult Pond Hockey Championships.
The team serves standing amputee players as well as sled hockey players. The rehabilitation is handled through team practices, which feature a wide range of ability levels and are broken up by sled and standing amputee drills.
The coaches are able to work individually with players, Hickey said, which helps the athletes with their specific disabilities. Hickey and Hill also said the players already have formed a bond that opens the door for them to teach each other how to tackle obstacles.
“We’re working with each other and learning from each other as we go,” Hill said.
Dave Lucia, also a board member and a coach, said he sees the team becoming a resource for the players to discuss issues outside of hockey.
“It will be a forum for them to get together to discuss among themselves, almost like a support group, and they can talk about things they are going through,” he said.
Hill said the soldiers have so many experiences in common that the locker room is a place where there are “no barriers,” and players can help each other through a wide variety of issues.
“It makes us more functional for life,” he said of the USA Warriors program.
Hickey said the local area hospitals know about the program and have lent some support. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center helped one sled player by designing a custom sled sleeve to help ease irritation to an amputation.
“They developed that strictly for this program,” Hickey said.
There is also a local adult team made up of doctors who did many of the procedures on the soldiers who make up the USA Warriors roster, Hickey said.
The program’s goal locally is to enroll the standing amputee players in an adult league at The Gardens Ice House, Hickey said.
The long term goal is to keep the players on the ice and in the game after they complete their recovery and head home.
“Our end goal is to rehabilitate these guys, get them back into the sport of hockey and tracking these guys so when they go home we can find them an adult league they can play in or finding them a sled program they can play in,” Hickey said. “When they leave here they aren’t leaving the sport, they are adding to the sport wherever they end up.”
The USA Warriors aren’t planning expansion to other areas of the country, Hickey said, and will stay close to the injured soldiers at the military hospitals. New players will come and go, but the program aims to help the soldiers from the recovery process all the way to their own adult league wherever that may be.
“Kids who have these types of injuries, it just changes their entire life and they really don’t know what’s in store for them in the future,” Lucia said. “Now they have a glimmer of hope and can say ‘I still can do these things that I love, it’s just going to be a little different.’”

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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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