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Green Bay goalie gets the shutout … and the goal

02/27/2014, 5:30pm MST
By Tom Robinson - Special to USAHockey.com

Jared Rutledge of the Green Bay Gamblers had a rare night for a goalie Saturday in a 3-0 win over the United States Hockey League’s Youngstown Phantoms: He posted the shutout and scored a goal.

After making his 26th and final save of the night, Rutledge directed the puck into the corner, leading to an errant pass back to the point by Youngstown. The puck slid all the way into the empty net and, as the last Green Bay player to touch it, Rutledge was credited with the goal.

PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: The West Sound Warriors posted wins Tuesday and Wednesday to open their best-of-five Northern Pacific Hockey League semifinal series with the Eugene Generals. Many players contributed offensively when West Sound won 4-1 Tuesday and 9-1 Wednesday.

Peter Mingus scored the first two goals Tuesday. Then after Eugene closed within 2-1, Mingus assisted on both Jimmy Morgan goals to set up the final score. Joe Glitero had assists on all four goals and West Sound built a 79-12 lead in shots on goal.

Andy Williams had a hat trick Wednesday when Max MacInnis had two goals and an assist and Gavin Nickerson had a goal and two assists.

The top-seeded Bellingham Blazers defeated the Tri-Cities Outlaws 9-1 in Tuesday’s series opener. Mason Wade and Sasha Perron each scored two goals while Scott Hansen and Bailey Shaver had four assists each.

Mac Howey scored two goals Wednesday night when the first Eastern Hockey League playoffs opened with the New Jersey Titans defeating the Washington Junior Nationals 8-2 in a play-in game. Tyler Ralph and Cameron Klein added a goal and two assists each.

The win puts the Titans against the regular-season champion New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in one of the weekend’s best-of-three, first-round series. All 17 teams made the Eastern playoffs.

The Florida Eels, Tampa Bay Juniors and East Coast Eagles each advanced in the United States Premier Hockey League’s Elite Division playoffs with two-game sweeps.

PLAYOFF BOUND: The Omaha Lancers are back in the USHL’s Clark Cup Playoffs. After having their streak of playoff berths end at 23 last season, the Lancers became the first USHL team to clinch this season.

Omaha is 6-0-1 over the last seven games, killing off 20 of 21 opposing power plays in the process, to take a share of the Western Conference lead.

Hayden Hawkey posted consecutive shutouts Friday and Saturday with 22 saves in a 1-0 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints and 30 in a 5-0 win over the Waterloo Black Hawks.

Omaha (33-9-5) finished the weekend tied for first in the conference with the Black Hawks (34-8-3). Waterloo also clinched and has a slight edge in winning percentage with two games in hand.

A total of seven North American Hockey League teams have locked up playoff berths. The Austin Bruins, Bismarck Bobcats and Aberdeen Wings have clinched in the Central Division; the Fairbanks Ice Dogs have clinched in the Midwest; and the Amarillo Bulls, Topeka RoadRunners and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees have clinched the South.

COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Youngstown Phantoms forward Conor Lemirande has committed to Miami (Ohio) University. Lemirande is one of the USHL’s biggest players at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. The 20-year-old from Janesville, Wis. has 14 points and 119 penalty minutes with four of his five goals coming in the last 10 games.

Hayden Stewart, a USHL goalie who has thrived since a trade to the Indiana Ice, has committed to Cornell University. The 19-year-old from Rockford, Ill. is 6-0 without allowing more than one goal in any game since moving from Dubuque to Indiana. He has a 0.67 goals-against average and .971 save percentage with the Ice.

Three NAHL defensemen announced their commitments.

Sam Piazza of the Wichita Falls Wildcats has committed to the University of Michigan. Piazza is the team’s top scoring defenseman with 26 points in 46 games.

Rio Grande Valley’s Dylan Abood is headed to the Air Force Academy. Abood, 20, from Centennial, Colo., has 16 assists and is plus-20 in 48 games. The former Wenatchee Wild is a veteran of 153 career regular-season and 22 career Robertson Cup playoff games in the NAHL.

Scott Dornbrock of the Minot Minotauros committed to Miami (Ohio). The 20-year-old from Harper Woods, Minn. has 19 points in 50 games in this, his second season with the team.

SEASON AWARDS: The Northern Pacific League presented several season awards.

Greg Sponholtz of the Tri-City Outlaws was named Coach of the Year; Cody Rich of the Bellingham Blazers was named Most Valuable Player – Forward; Scott Hansen of Bellingham was named MVP – Defense; Aaron Zavesky of the West Sound Warriors was named MVP – Goalie; Alex Svoboda of Tri-City was named Student-Athlete of the Year.

ONE-TIMERS: More than 50,000 fans attended weekend USHL games, including 4,815 in Sioux Falls Saturday night and seven other crowds of at least 3,338. … The Sioux City Musketeers used wins in overtime and a shootout to extend their USHL winning streak to seven games. … Matt Iacopelli of the Muskegon Lumberjacks has 10 goals in the last 10 games, giving him the USHL lead with 33. … Austin used a weekend sweep of Aberdeen to regain the NAHL Central Division lead. … Kevin Valenti of the Northern Cyclones finished as the Eastern Hockey League leader in goals (35), points (76) and game-winning goals (seven). … Anders Franke stopped 56 of 57 shots to lead the Flint Junior Generals to 3-1 and 3-0 wins over the Peoria Mustangs in a weekend meeting of North American 3 Hockey League division leaders.

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.”

Gerry Letourneau Helps All Rhode Island Kids Get a Chance to Play

12/01/2016, 9:45am MST
By Mike Scandura - Special to USAHockey.com

Founder of Rhode Island Special Hockey works to give equal opportunities

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?

Flores:
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?

Flores:
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?

Flores:
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?

Flores:
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?

Flores:
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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