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Winiecki Leads Waterloo In Clark Cup Playoffs

04/25/2014, 12:45pm MDT
By Tom Robinson - Special to

Blake Winiecki was one of the Waterloo Black Hawks players who suffered through a disappointing end to the 2013 Clark Cup playoffs.

Now Winiecki is busy at work trying to help the Black Hawks create a different result this time around.

After one round of the 2014 Clark Cup — the tournament that determines the United States Hockey League postseason champion and the USA Hockey Tier I junior national championship — Winiecki shares the lead in playoff scoring. He is also one of the big reasons Waterloo, the USHL’s Western Conference and overall regular-season champion, is the only team to make it to the conference finals without a loss.

The best-of-five conference finals begin Friday. The Black Hawks have home-ice advantage over the Sioux City Musketeers in the Western Conference finals.

“I think last year we were a little disappointed with how it turned out, losing in the first round,” Winiecki said.

Last year, the Black Hawks and Fargo Force went into a deciding fifth game of their first-round series. Waterloo carried a lead into the final four minutes only to lose 4-3 in overtime.

“This year, the guys who returned and came back to Waterloo knew we needed some redemption,” Winiecki said. “In playoffs, the intensity ramps up.

“I’ve tried to pick up my game a little, and it has worked out so far.”

Winiecki was part of a dominant Black Hawks’ first-round effort as the team swept the Sioux Falls Stampede in three games. He shares the USHL playoff scoring lead with Black Hawks defenseman Brandon Montour at four goals and five assists in just three games. Linemate Tyler Sheehy is third in the league in playoff scoring with two goals and five assists.

After producing 24 goals and 26 assists while playing in all 60 regular-season games for Waterloo, Winiecki has goals in each playoff game. The 20-year-old from Lakeville, Minn., who is committed to St. Cloud State University for the fall, opened the postseason with two goals in a 7-4 win over the Stampede.

Winiecki followed up with a goal and three assists in a 6-3 win in Game 2. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward then scored on his only shot of Game 3 while adding two assists in a 7-2 victory.

“I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Waterloo coach P.K. O’Handley said. “In the offensive zone, he’s using his body and his physicality to get opportunities offensively for himself and his teammates."

Winiecki, Sheehy and Drew Melanson formed a productive forward line in time for the playoffs.

“I’ve skated with Tyler in summers in the past at camps that we went to,” Winiecki said. “And our senior year of high school, we played in the Minnesota Elite League together.

“We’ve had a little experience together. At this stage, everyone can kind of play with everyone, but it’s nice knowing him and knowing some of his tendencies. He’s a great player.”

After the Black Hawks scored 20 goals in their three first-round games, O’Handley wants to make sure his team does not slow down now as it prepares to face the Musketeers in a best-of-five Clark Cup semifinal series that starts Friday in Waterloo.

“We have to do everything better,” O’Handley said. “As you move through the playoffs, the intensity and the precision needed to keep going ramps up.”

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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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