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Florida cooking up sled hockey depth

01/21/2013, 9:00am MST
By Jeff Hawkins

Chris Douglas glides into the offensive zone, maneuvers around an imaginary defender and deftly beats the desperate move of a sprawling goalie. Over in the near corner, Douglas spots a loose puck. He collects it and coasts down the open sheet of ice. A move here, a deke there and his focus is clear: Score into an open net, pick up another loose puck and head back down the ice.
 
Hard work is not a figment of Douglas’ imagination.
 
Prior to March 2011, Douglas had no interest in ice hockey. He didn’t know the rules and didn’t watch the NHL. Sled hockey? He never heard of it. This is Florida, by the way. Not Alaska.
 
Now … “I watch hockey 24/7,” Douglas said.
 
The attitude change came quickly following a casual conversation with a nurse who suggested Douglas speak with local sled hockey coach Tom Reinarts.
 
Sled hockey? Douglas thought about it, but not for long. Douglas at first “totally forgot” about the conversation. But a few weeks later, he remembered and contacted Reinarts, coach of the Space Coast Ice Bandits. Reinarts invited him out for a skate.
 
“As soon as I got out there,” Douglas said. “I was hooked.”
 
The discovery didn’t come without complications. Competitive sled hockey leagues were scheduled to end the next month. Douglas sighed.
 
“No way can this be done,” Douglas recalls thinking.
 
For Douglas, the season was not done. His career was just getting started.
 
With inspiration from Reinarts and cooperation from a Kissimmee, Fla., ice rink, Douglas started skating … and skating … and skating …
 
Impressive as a rookie last season, the defenseman landed a spot on the 2012-13 national developmental team.
 
“[Douglas] has moved right along,” Reinarts said. “He has two things going for him. He has a lot of natural talent — he has a ton of speed — and his dedication. He is just grabbing the ice time.”
 
For his quick rise, the St. Cloud, Fla., resident applauds the efforts of Florida sled hockey pioneers Ron Robichaud and Reinarts. Not long ago, sled hockey opportunities were virtually non-existent. Then Reinarts formed a club team, the Space Coast Ice Bandits. Soon after, Reinarts met Robichaud, who was attempting to start a team in the Fort Myers, Fla. region. The duo started working camps and, as Robichaud’s squad developed, the two blended their teams into a feeder program for USA Hockey.
 
Entering this week’s 2013 Sled Cup, Florida will be represented by forwards Greg Shaw and Declan Farmer, a teenager, on the national team and Douglas on the developmental squad.
 
Despite the challenges of forming grassroots sled hockey in the Sunshine State, top club teams like Space Coast and the Tampa Bay Lighting are beginning to produce depth on the national level.
 
“Getting games is hard, but we are developing talent,” Reinarts said, adding, “sometimes we got creative with the logistics.”
 
Shaw, Farmer and Douglas are expected to play big roles at USA Hockey’s mid-season tournament, which will be staged this week at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, N.C. Korea, Russia and the U.S. developmental team also will compete.
 
“All three of those players will do a bang-up job,” Reinarts said.
 
Robichaud feels good about the Florida connection’s future.
 
“Hopefully if we can get some funding,” he said, “we can be one of the teams to beat.”
 
Reinarts soon predicts the Florida assembly will land “two or three” players on the national team and “two or three” more on the developmental team.
“That’s a cool feeling,” Reinarts said.
 
Douglas would agree.
 
Three years ago, hockey meant nothing to him.
 
Now, if you want to find him, first check the local ice rink. He’s probably practicing.
 
“My goal is to make it to the Paralympics,” Douglas said. “I only have room to go up.”
 
If he does, Douglas certainly will applaud the efforts of Florida pioneers Robichaud and Reinarts.
 
“I think all the [Florida] programs are starting to catch fire and get sponsors,” Douglas said. “Whenever I see someone with a disability, I go up and talk to them and see if they want to play.”
 
That, to Douglas, is also a cool feeling.
 
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.

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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