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Berrafato waits his turn, leads Amarillo to NAHL’s best record

05/02/2013, 1:45pm MDT
By Tom Robinson

Paul Berrafato had to wait patiently for his chance.
Berrafato made sure to get the most out of the opportunity to serve as the No. 1 goalie for the Amarillo Bulls after a long stretch of inactivity last season.
The 19-year-old from Buffalo, N.Y., led the North American Hockey League in two major statistical categories and has continued that success into the playoffs. The Bulls won the South Division playoff title to become the first team to qualify for a spot in the Robertson Cup Finals.
Berrafato reported to Amarillo for the end of the 2011-12 season, even though he knew he would only be able to practice with the Bulls before playing this season.
“I knew I was going to a good place where I could develop,” said Berrafato, who has committed to play college hockey at Holy Cross beginning with the 2014-15 season. “I was able to work on my game.”
Berrafato chose that route rather than report to New Mexico, which is no longer in the NAHL, after being traded to the last-place team during the 2011-12 season. Berrafato worked out his release from the team at the trading deadline.
The 2011-12 season started with Berrafato on another last-place team, going 5-5 and posting the best statistics of four goalies used by the United States Hockey League’s Muskegon Lumberjacks before they made the interleague trade. Berrafato, who had also spent the previous season with Muskegon, last played January 7, 2012.
The layoff from game action did not appear to hurt.
Berrafato helped Amarillo go 46-7-7 for the NAHL’s best record. He led the league in wins while going 33-3-5-2 and also leading with a 1.66 goals-against average. He was fifth in the NAHL with a .928 save percentage.
The Bulls knocked the defending champion Texas Tornado out of the Robertson Cup playoffs in a three-game division final sweep with Berrafato stopping 75 of 80 shots. He held Texas to one goal in each of the first two games.
“We play a good defensive game, but at the same time, we have a lot of guys that score,” said Berrafato, who credited Amarillo’s defensive success to the forwards’ willingness to backcheck and the team’s ability to adjust coverage within its own zone.
Coach Dennis Williams said Berrafato’s play has, in turn, boosted the team’s offense.
“He’s very confident right now,” said Williams, “and knowing we have a goalie back there like Paulie, we can take more risks.
“We know he’ll be there to make that big save for us.”
Berrafato is good at minimizing the situations where he has to make more than one good save at a time.
“He’s a mature goalie,” Williams said. “He does a great job with his rebound control. He smothers shots.”
After waiting his turn, Berrafato is showing he can be a leader on a winning team.
“What he’s really good at — I think it’s his demeanor for the game — he’s not a guy who gets too rattled,” said Williams, who had recruited Berrafato while coaching at Bowling Green State University. “He doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s really true to the moment.
“He doesn’t react to a bad goal or even a bad game.”
With Berrafato in goal, the Bulls have not had to deal with many bad games.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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The Bloomington, Ill., team played their in fifth straight Pond Hockey Championships in 2015


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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