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NY Bobcats take the turkey at Eastern League Thanksgiving Showcase

12/05/2013, 4:45pm MST
By Tom Robinson - Special to

The New York Bobcats beat three South Division opponents during the Eastern Hockey League’s Thanksgiving Showcase Friday through Sunday in Tewksbury, Mass. to extend their winning streak to four games and move into the Central Division title race.

The Bobcats moved over the .500 mark for the first time this season and closed the gap on the second-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights to one point with a game in hand.

Center Corey Kennedy was honored as the league’s Defensive Player of the Week for his play on faceoffs and as a penalty killer while going plus-3 and helping the Bobcats allow just three goals in three games.

The New Hampshire Junior Monarchs also won three games with the help of a shutout by goalie Brenden Cain.

The Eastern Hockey League will have a Christmas Showcase Dec. 20-22 in Simsbury, Conn.

METRO SHOWDOWN: The Metropolitan Junior Hockey League’s top two teams met in Richmond on Saturday and went to a shootout that the host Generals won 2-1 over the Boston Junior Rangers.

The Mullen Division-leading Generals have the most standings points in the league while going 18-4-0-2. They got 31 saves from Tucker Murphy and a decisive shootout goal from Cameron Durham.

Mike Robinson made 37 saves for the Francis Division-leading Rangers, who are 17-1-0-2 for the league’s best winning percentage.

TOP SCORER: Lane King continues to pile up assists to separate himself from the pack as the top scorer in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound, 20-year-old is a forward for the Great Lakes Division-leading Marquette Royals. King has scored in all 23 games since a scoreless opener and has 11 goals and 52 assists. He has at least four assists five times.

TOP GOALIE: Austin Brihn, the American West Hockey League’s leading goalie statistically, made 34 saves Saturday to lead the Helena Bighorns to a 9-0 shutout of the Yellowstone Quake.

Brihn has a 1.73 goals-against average and .942 save percentage for the first-place Bighorns. He has split time with Alex Lazarski throughout the season, including each playing four games in the current eight-game winning streak. In Brihn’s four games during the win streak, he has stopped 105 of 109 shots.

USHL LEADERS: Zeb Knutson had five goals and three assists in three United States Hockey League wins by the Sioux Falls Stampede. Knutson scored the game-winning goal Nov. 27 on his league-leading eighth power-play goal in a 3-0 win over the Lincoln Stars. He assisted on all three goals Friday in another 3-0 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

The 19-year-old Minnesota State University, Mankato recruit from Sioux Falls then became the first USHL player in the Tier I era (since 2002) to have a pair of four-goal games in the same season. He added an assist to the four goals in a 10-4 win over Team USA.

Knutson is on a seven-game scoring streak with 16 points during that time to move to fourth in the league in points (28) and second in goals (17).

Waterloo Black Hawks goalie Cal Peterson won three games in 72 hours, including his first shutout of the season with 21 saves Friday in a 3-0 win over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Peterson, a 2013 National Hockey League draft pick by the Buffalo Sabres, moved into a tie for the USHL lead in goaltending wins with 11.

COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: The United States Premier Hockey League Premier Division’s top goalie, Sean Lawrence of the Boston Junior Bruins, has committed to Quinnipiac University. The 18-year-old from Granite Bay, Calif. is 18-4-2 and leads the division with a 1.88 GAA and .940 save percentage. Quinnipiac reached the national championship game last season.

Lawrence’s teammate, forward Brian Bowen, has committed to the University of Vermont. The 18-year-old from Littleton, Mass. has 12 goals and 12 assists and is plus-14 in 27 games.

Cooper Marody, a forward with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks, has committed to play at the University of Michigan. The 16-year-old from Brighton, Mich. is tied for second on the team with 16 points in 23 games.

Cedar Rapids defenseman Charlie Curti has committed to defending NCAA Division I champion Yale University. Curti, a 17-year-old from Mound, Mich., has three goals and eight assists while going plus-5 in 19 USHL games.

Will Johnson, a forward with the North American Hockey League’s Minnesota Magicians, has committed to the Air Force Academy. The youngest player on the Magicians at 17, Johnson, from Santa Barbara, Calif. is second on the team with six goals in 23 games.

ONE-TIMERS: Walpole Express goalie Kyle Shapiro scored a goal in an exhibition game against the New England Wolves that was part of the EHL Thanksgiving Showcase. … David Carle is leaving his position as assistant coach of the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers Jan. 1 to become a University of Denver assistant, replacing Steve Miller, who is leaving to prepare for his new role as head coach/general manager of the Madison Capitols, a 2014-15 USHL expansion team. … Michael Bigelbach assisted on the game-winner in two of three wins and scored in all three games as the Minot Minotauros extended their NAHL winning streak to six games. … The Central Division-leading Peoria Mustangs have won 14 straight and are now tied for the second-best record in the North American 3 Hockey League at 20-5.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Three ways to beat burnout

11/28/2016, 9:45pm MST
By Dave Pond

According to NHL metrics, the average hockey shift lasts somewhere between 45 and 55 seconds. There’s inherent beauty and fluidity to line changes, as skaters come on and off the ice, looking to recharge after going full throttle for their teams.

Meanwhile, your NHL officiating peers are giving their all, too – regularly logging 4-5 miles a game. Those totals are even greater at your level, where you and your colleagues officiate multiple games a day, several times per week, on a seemingly never-ending calendar.

And, although we want to perform our best every game, everyone has both good days and bad – players and officials alike. To learn more about keeping burnout at bay, we went to the experts: longtime amateur hockey scheduler Larry Carrington and former NHL official Mark Faucette.

“There is so much more to officiating than meets the eye,” said Faucette, a 17-year NHL veteran. “It may look easy from the stands, but to maintain total control of a game along with the stress, slumps, supervisors, travel, and fitness regimen takes a very special kind of person.”

Get in shape (and stay there)
We all think we’re in “pretty good” shape, but the reality is, officials must be top athletes and in great condition – even at the youngest levels.

“Conditioning is very important—the deeper into the season, the more important it is,” Carrington said. “Burnout happens physically, mentally, and emotionally. An official who is in good condition will experience less physical burnout, and that will in turn help with the emotional and mental burnout.”

Faucette stresses following a workout routine that maxes yourself at least every other day. Neither player or official should plan to use games as a vehicle toward better physical fitness.

“Where we used to go to camp to get into shape, officials today are on summer conditioning regimens and are tested as soon as they come to camp,” he said. “Taking care of your body is a total focus for the good official.

“The players are so much stronger and faster now, so it’s imperative the officials keep the same pace.”

Find balance
No, not balance on your skates (that’s a given). Rather, make sure to keep the big picture in mind, to work a manageable schedule that includes everything that’s important to you – family, friends, and time away from the rink.

Although it makes Carrington’s job as an assignor more difficult, he said it pays off in the long run.

“I encourage officials to take at least one weekend off to get away from hockey,” he said. “I certainly don't want to lose their services for a week, but the invigoration that it usually provides makes them a much more valuable asset over the course of the season.”

That’s huge in an industry where both mental and physical fatigue are commonplace.

“Every official runs into slumps, just as players do,” Faucette said. “You spend numerous hours alone as an official, and when things are not going good, where everything is negative, it can cause you duress.

“Positive thoughts and self-evaluations speed up recovery,” he continued. “So, instead of telling yourself, ‘I wonder what bad thing will happen tonight?’ say ‘I’m ready for anything – bring it on!’”

Have fun
It’s No. 3 here, but should be No. 1 on your to-do list.

“I realize the officials are all trying hard, and mistakes are part of any sport by any participant,” said Faucette, who currently serves as supervisor of officials for USA Hockey, the NAHL director of player safety and the SPHL director of officiating. “That being said, the joy I get out of seeing a young official start out at ground level and making the big time one day is immeasurable.”

For most of you reading this, the “big time” might not be the end goal (and that’s OK). But wherever you are, there’s experience you’ve gained, as well as that to come – which both point back to why you first got involved in this great sport.

As an assignor, Carrington tries to get out of the office as much as he can and intentionally varies the schedules of his officials to help keep things fresh. He also encourages his more senior officials to lend a hand to those who aren’t as long in the tooth.

“Going to the rink and helping officials help themselves get better can be very invigorating,” he said. “Even a very good, very experienced official will often find it fun and relaxing to mentor some new official at a lower-level game where the stress levels aren’t nearly as high.”

But no matter where you officiate, Carrington emphasizes keeping one thing in mind: the love of the sport and those playing it today.

“If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be out there.”

Class of 2016 Enshrined Into U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

11/30/2016, 8:30pm MST

Bill Belisle, Craig Janney & 1996 U.S. World Cup of Hockey Team Make Up the 2016 Class; Pat Kelly and Mark Howe Receive Lester Patrick Trophy

Shadow me

11/29/2016, 10:15am MST
By USA Hockey

Officials in Colorado Springs are benefitting from a shadow program

It was roughly five years ago when Tim Whitten noticed a problem in his association. Whitten, an assignor in the Southern Colorado Hockey Officials Association, observed that while new and young officials were signing up, few were returning the following season.

That’s when he berthed the idea of a shadow program.

Andy Flores, president of SCHOA, took time to tell us more about the program and how the association and its officials are reaping the benefits.

USA Hockey: How exactly did the shadow program come to be? What specific problems were you guys noticing?

Andy Flores:
It started with Tim Whitten. He found that we had a large exit rate, mostly because our newer and younger officials didn’t seem to be comfortable. We would be getting up to 10 new officials a year and we’d lose about 40 percent of them. When that happens, it puts a huge hole in your officials pool. So Tim came up with the idea to have veteran officials shadow newer officials to build their confidence on the ice.

USAH: How does the program work?

The program is designed for the new officials, the Level 1s who are in their first year. For the first five games on the ice, they are assigned a shadow. It’s general for a game assignment, a 10U C-level game or something like that. Typically on the ice we will have one senior official, one second-year official and the new officials. The shadow is assigned and works with the new individual. After five games, the shadow identifies if the person needs a little more work or if they are strong and have gained enough knowledge to do it on their own. At that point, they don’t get assigned shadows anymore. If they need a little extra help, they are assigned a shadow as long as they need it.

USAH: Are the shadows technically working the game or are they there as a silent helper?

The shadow’s primary job is to teach, not actually officiate. As a shadow you’re not there to influence the game. We don’t work in a capacity where we are working the game. We don’t call offsides, we don’t call icing and we don’t call penalties; it’s strictly educational purposes for the new individual. A shadow is there to give them support and confidence. A simple ‘Yes, you’re making the right call,’ or, ‘I would have maybe called offsides there,’ is what they are there for. That’s why we have shadows work at some of the lower levels of the game, because they are at a stage where coaches aren’t going to go after a ref for minor mistakes and it allows the new officials to learn in an environment where they aren’t necessarily going to get yelled at for everything.

USAH: What’s the feedback been like?

The senior guys definitely love it. They enjoy the teaching aspect. That’s why I officiate, because I enjoy teaching the game as well as being a part of it, so for those senior guys, it’s fun to be sharing the knowledge. In Colorado Springs, our experience for our guys ranges anywhere from the NHL, USHL all the way down to the local stuff, so we have a vast array of knowledge. I think the newer officials are enjoying it, too. They keep coming back, so we must be doing something right.

USAH: Has the retention improved then?

Absolutely. More than 60-70 percent stay on now for a second year. Plus, we’re getting anywhere from 20 to 30 new guys each year. It’s definitely had a positive impact.

USAH: So you would recommend that other officiating associations give a shadow program like this a try?

Absolutely. You take advantage of those prime opportunities to teach at the time they’re occurring. You don’t have to holler across the ice to try and say ‘Hey, do this,’ or, ‘You can’t do that.’ You don’t want to spend time during the game and you don’t want to slow down the game. With the shadow program, you keep the game flowing while teaching. Plus, I can’t speak enough about the retention. People leave officiating because they don’t feel confident. Now we give them that confidence.

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