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Late scoring streak boosts Guentzel to USHL Rookie of the Year

05/16/2013, 1:45pm MDT
By Tom Robinson

Jake Guentzel was familiar with the United States Hockey League long before he played in it.
 
By the time he finished his first season, opponents had a clear understanding of Guentzel’s skills as well.
 
A strong finish with the Sioux City Musketeers paved the way for Guentzel to earn USHL Rookie of the Year honors. The award was determined in voting by USHL coaches and general managers.
 
Guentzel made the decision easier for the voters by finishing the season on a record-tying 21-game scoring streak. Mike Erickson of the Des Moines Buccaneers in the 2003-04 season is the only other player with a 21-game scoring streak since the USHL started its Tier I era in 2002.
 
With 39 goals and 44 assists in 60 games, Guentzel led all rookies and ranked sixth overall in the USHL in scoring. He had 43 of those points during the scoring streak to help Sioux City, which had been just 9-24-10, put together a 14-6-1 finish.
 
“I just feel like I had a lot of confidence,” Guentzel said of his big finish. “I also had great linemates in Jake Montgomery and Trevor Olson. They made it real easy for me.”
 
Guentzel, an 18-year-old who grew up in Woodbury, Minn., knew the USHL well even before Sioux City selected him in the 2010 USHL Futures Draft.
 
Jake has committed to play college hockey at Nebraska-Omaha. He was born in Omaha when his father, Mike, was coaching the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Mike led the Lancers to back-to-back Clark Cup titles in 1993 and 1994. Jake’s brothers, Ryan and Gabe, played for the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede.
 
“Both my brothers played in the league so I kind of came to their games and watched them growing up,” said Guentzel, whose father is now the associate head coach at the University of Minnesota. “I wanted to play in the league because I knew it’s the best league in America.
 
“I wanted to get there one day.”
 
Guentzel did more than just get there.
 
“Obviously the hockey world has been long aware of Jake’s talents,” USHL president and commissioner Skip Prince said in a league press release. “It runs in the family and the Guentzel legacy in the USHL is lasting.
 
“The year he had with the Musketeers was a testament to hard work, talent and just a great feel for the game.”
 
Guentzel is listed 80th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings going into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
 
The rookie honor was among the season-ending awards announced by the USHL while the league is proceeding toward the end of its Clark Cup Playoffs.
 
The USHL named Taylor Cammarata of the Waterloo Black Hawks the Forward of the Year and Player of the Year Wednesday.
 
Cammarata, a 17-year-old from Plymouth, Minn., led the league with 93 points in 59 regular-season games. He scored 38 goals and added 55 assists.
 
Paul LaDue of the Lincoln Stars was named Defenseman of the Year. The 20-year-old from Grand Forks, N.D. led USHL defensemen in scoring with 12 goals and 37 assists in 62 games. His 83 career points are the most by a defenseman in team history.
 
Kevin Lindskoug, a 20-year-old from Sweden who played for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, was named Goaltender of the Year.
 
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN OFFICIATING

08/25/2015, 3:30pm MDT
By USA Hockey

No one has ever said that officiating, and especially officiating ice hockey, was easy. Rule knowledge, communication skills, fitness, skating and a natural presence are just some of the skills necessary to be a successful official.  Some possess more of these skills and those are the officials who advance to higher levels. But regardless of the level achieved or the skill set the official possesses, the one quality that should be equal among every official is a high level of integrity.

The national official staff members, along with our volunteer referees-in-chief and local supervisors, have heard growing concerns over a decreasing level of integrity among our youth hockey officials. It’s sometimes said that no one is holding them accountable. A portion of this perception is likely a typical “blame the officials” mentality, but some anecdotal evidence suggests there is also some merit to this concern. That’s alarming to USA Hockey, as it affects the credibility of our entire program, along with every member it represents. The blunt truth is this: even one official who isn’t on the up and up can and will damage the credibility of all officials who do take pride in the integrity of their work.

Whether we like it or not, officials are under a microscope, and by the nature of the business, are held to a very high standard. When we signed up for this officiating gig, we committed ourselves to represent the game of hockey, USA Hockey, our local group of officials and ourselves as people of integrity who accept the responsibility and guardianship of enforcing the rules in a fair and consistent manner. Most importantly, we must remember that the game is bigger than all of us and that the game itself is what we serve. Those who lose sight of that not only compromise the competitive fairness of the games, they also make life more difficult for all of the officials by damaging the credibility of the officiating community.

An example of this type of unacceptable behavior occurred last season. A Level 2 adult official tended to work his games with a chip on his shoulder. He often created confrontation with coaches, alienated his younger partners with inaccurate advice and disregarded their help in attempting to get some calls and rule applications right. Even though the help they were providing was correct, he chose to maintain his incorrect position that affected the outcome of several games. He also tended to identify certain players and single them out for various infractions and/or on-ice lectures as a means of emphasizing his authority.

Once the trends were identified, concerns were voiced by several parents and coaches to the local assigner and supervisor, who acknowledged they had never seen the official’s work, but would keep throwing him out there working the same teams and levels that had expressed concerns regarding his attitude. This included intentionally assigning him a playoff game involving the coach who was the most vocal in expressing concerns. This official was then instructed to “throw the coach out if he says anything.”

That playoff game went without a hitch – a tight 2-1 game with a couple of close off-side plays and maybe an icing or two missed. In the post-game dressing room, the official in question, in the presence of his partners and the officials scheduled to work the next game, said, “It’s always a great day when you can make one or both of the coaches mad. It’s too bad the white team coach didn’t want to play along today.” The partners sat there in silence until finally a 12-year-old Level 1 official who was working the next game said, “I don’t think that’s right. We’re not supposed to bait coaches.”

The official got dressed quickly and left the room without saying another word. Kind of ironic that it was the innocent 12-year-old that seemed to “get it” and instill a sense of accountability among those in the room. Imagine how any 12-year-old player feels on the ice when they see the official(s) displaying an attitude that is simply not to the standard the game deserves. And yes, more often than not, they can see through those who do not have the level of integrity expected.

Fortunately, these types of officials are few and far between. But they do exist and to simply stick our heads in the sand and not address the concern is irresponsible. Each of us, as officials, has an obligation to behave in a professional manner at all times and take our role seriously. We have made a commitment to approach each game with the understanding that the game is about the players and we should be invisible until the players require us to appear as a result of infractions that occur. Respect is a two-way street and simply putting on the sweater with the USA Hockey crest suggests respect is warranted, but only if supported by your actions.

USA Hockey has an obligation to create a non-threatening environment that promotes respect for officials and an opportunity for officials to improve through education and evaluation. USA Hockey does this through playing rules, points of emphasis, zero tolerance policies and comprehensive education programs for officials, coaches, parents and players.

In return, the game expects USA Hockey officiating members to bring a professional image to every contest and an attitude that creates a positive environment and makes the game better. We realize everyone makes mistakes – it’s part of the game. However, laziness or unprofessional behavior is unacceptable and being creative in rule enforcement and not holding players/coaches accountable for infractions will only make the next team of officials’ jobs much more difficult and set them up for failure.

The reality is that the game official must always hold themselves to the highest level of integrity and behavior both on and off the ice. Maybe that’s fair, or maybe not, but it is the expectation we are required to meet.

As we head into the 2015-16 season, ask yourself if you are willing to meet that expectation. If the answer is yes, welcome back and we look forward to a great season.

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