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Junior Bruins, Islanders players lead Team MA to USPHL All-Star victory

01/24/2014, 6:15pm MST
By Tom Robinson - Special to USAHockey.com

Players from the Boston Junior Bruins and Islanders Hockey Club combined to lead the way Monday when Team MA defeated Team USA 10-3 in the United States Premier Hockey League All-Star Premier Division All-Star Game at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass.

Three Bruins and two Islanders made up the five Team MA players who produced at least three points in the win. The game was the first of four that were part of the USPHL All-Star Classic.

From Boston, Brian Bowen had two goals and an assist, Timothy Doherty had a goal and two assists, and Bryan Lemos had a game-high four points on a goal and three assists. Ted McCarran had two goals and an assist and David Hallisey had three assists from the Islanders.

Islanders defenseman Aaron Titcomb was among the players contributing a goal and an assist.

Team USA opened a 2-0 lead before Team MA scored the game’s next 10 goals. The game was played in two halves. Alex Morin of the Islanders had 18 saves and Sean Lawrence of the Bruins had 14 while each playing a half.

James Winkler of the Portland Junior Pirates had a goal and an assist for Team USA.

The USHL Premier Division Prospects Game came next. Alec Weinberg scored on an assist from Philadelphia Flyers teammate Ron Greco with 22 seconds left to lift Team USA to a 5-4 win over Team MA in that game. John Schiavo from New York PAL and Matthew Volonnino from the Jersey Hitmen scored two goals each in the win.

George Mika from the Boston Jr. Bruins and Patrick Condon from the Bay State Breakers had a goal and an assist each for Team MA.

The USPHL’s Under-18 and Under-16 leagues were involved in the other two all-star games.

MILESTONE WIN: P.K. O’Handley established the United States Hockey League record for career coaching victories. O’Handley tied the mark Friday and broke it Saturday with his 530th win when Cam Johnson made 46 saves to lead his Waterloo Black Hawks to a 2-1 win over Team USA.

Mike Hastings had 529 wins from 1994 to 2008 with the Omaha Lancers. O’Handley matched that total Saturday with the 11th straight win by the Black Hawks (27-5-1).

O’Handley is in his 12th year in Waterloo and 19th in the USHL. The Black Hawks are 16-0-1 in the last 17 games and lead the league in wins.

For his career, O’Handley is 530-441-74.

WINNING STREAK: The Central Wisconsin Saints were just one game above .500 before embarking on their current seven-game Minnesota Junior Hockey League winning streak. The Saints have won 11 of their last 12.

Three of the wins came during the weekend in a series with the Wisconsin Rampage.

A.J. Smith made 29 saves in Friday’s 6-1 win. The rematch on Saturday was much tougher with Jacob Nitsche scoring in the second minute of overtime for a 4-3 win.

The Saints were back in control Sunday when they allowed only 12 shots over the final two periods to complete the weekend sweep with a 7-1 romp. Andrew Veglucci and Nicholas Mardirossian scored two goals each in the win.

HOT GOALIE: Brenden Cain of the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs has used a hot streak to move to the top of the Eastern Hockey League goalie leaders.

Cain has a 1.78 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage after allowing just one goal in each of the last four starts. He has given up seven goals in six games while making 148 saves, including 30 in a shutout.

PLAYOFF RACES: The Northern Pacific Hockey League’s four-team playoff field is set with the Vancouver Vipers winless in 32 games while the remaining teams are all within two games of .500, at worst. The Bellingham Blazers and West Sound Warriors, who are battling for first place, are playoff bound, along with the Tri-City Outlaws and Eugene Generals.

The Alexandria Blizzard clinched an NA3HL playoff berth.

COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Several USHL players made recent college commitments.

Youngstown Phantoms defenseman Steven Ruggiero and Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Matt Mendelson each committed to Penn State. Ruggiero, a 17-year-old from Kings Park, N.Y., has one assist in 14 games. Mendelson, 18, from Pittsburgh, is second on the Lumberjacks with 26 points in 36 games.

Other USHL commitments include Sioux Falls Stampede forward Tony Calderone to the University of Michigan and Team USA goalie Blake Weyrick to Brown University.

Calderone, 19, from Trenton, Mich., has 11 goals and 13 assists in 36 games. Weyrick, from Ojai, Calif., has a 1.63 GAA and .943 save percentage in four games with the U.S. Under-18 squad.

Tyler Gernhofer from the defending North American Hockey League and USA Hockey Tier II national champion Amarillo Bulls has committed to the University of Vermont. The 19-year-old forward from Grapevine, Texas, has 23 goals and 15 assists in 36 games in his second season with the team.

ONE-TIMERS: Kyle Hayton of the Sioux City Musketeers posted his first career USHL shutout with 32 saves Friday in a 1-0 overtime win over the Sioux Falls Stampede. … The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, for players who have not made an NCAA commitment, is scheduled for Feb. 17-18 in Troy, Mich. and will feature teams from the Central, Midwest, North and South Divisions, along with an 18U Selects team. … Sean Kelley made 41 saves and Alex King scored a pair of first-period goals Sunday when the Gillette Wild shut out the Billings Bulls 6-0 in an American West Hockey League game. … The General Generals have outscored opponents 299-82 while going 36-6-0-2 to lead the Metropolitan League Dowd Division. … Cincinnati Swords captain Henry Smith had five assists and went plus-4 in a pair of NA3HL wins.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN OFFICIATING

08/25/2015, 3:30pm MDT
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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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