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Classroom Seminar Instructor Training Program Serves As a Means To Teach the Teacher for Ice Hockey Officials

By Kyle Huson, 05/08/19, 3:15PM MDT


Select officials took the course this spring in hopes of becoming certified Classroom Seminar Instructors

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Each spring, the USA Hockey Officiating Education Program takes over the U.S. Olympic Training Centers in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs for its annual Eastern and Western Seminar Instructor Training Programs.

The goal of the specialized officiating training programs, which were held April 25-28 in Lake Placid and May 2-5 in Colorado Springs and just completed its 35th year, in essence is to teach the teacher. In other words, these programs are designed to provide ice hockey officials resources and lessons that they can then take back to their home rinks to share with colleagues at local officiating seminars, where more local officials would come to learn how to up their game.

Participants in both sessions of the training program were recommended by their District Referee-in-Chief as some of the top performers in their field, and were selected for the chance to attend after an application process.

“We try to give them a foundation to go back to the local classrooms at the beginning of each season to instruct our officials who are attending the mandatory seminars,” said USA Hockey National Referee-in-Chief Dave LaBuda. “This gets them started in learning how to use the instructor manual.”

At the beginning of the four-day event, each participant was given a Classroom Seminar Instructor Manual containing all topic guidelines, on-ice drills and other materials necessary to conduct a USA Hockey Officiating Classroom Seminar. The program was broken up into both classroom and on-ice sessions.

“In the classroom sessions, we’re covering some of the material contained in the instructor manual,” LaBuda said. “On the ice, they’re actually demonstrating having an actual ice session with real seminar participants in order to learn how to manage those drills on the ice and make the most effective use of the ice time.”

While on the ice, groups of officials would create the drills based on a topic that was given to them, explain it to the other officials and then run the group through the training. These drills included faceoffs in various zones, icing and offsides, and how to properly call a penalty among others. Once the drill was completed, the instructors received feedback from the other participants as well as USA Hockey staff on how to make sure the drill was performed as efficiently as possible.

“Getting feedback from the other participants and instructors on what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong has been good,” said Robert Pugh, an official from St. Louis, Mo. and a participant in the Western program. “We’ve been going over a lot of classroom techniques, and for those of us who aren’t teachers by nature, that has been good.”


For participants such as Matt Wilhite, becoming an official and participating in the Training Program was a great way to stay involved in hockey. He was also named the Western Instructor Training Camp Milt Kaufman Award winner.

“It was literally the last thing I had done for the sport. I had played, coached, ran a rink and ran leagues,” said Wilhite. “I felt like I needed to give back in another way.”

LaBuda said that the training program is a way to reach out to membership at the local grassroots level, and provide consistent messaging as to the expectations of officials during a game. He said that anybody that is interested in becoming a seminar instructor should contact their District Referee-in-Chief.

“Everybody has a limited amount of time on the ice. There are opportunities to stay involved in the game, and becoming a seminar instructor is certainly one of them.”

To get involved and become a USA Hockey official, click here.

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QUESTION: An attacking player takes a shot on goal, which deflects off of a teammate in the attacking end-zone, and is redirected into the netting above the goal. Where is the ensuing face-off located?

ANSWER: While the initial shot was "on goal" in this situation, the face-off must be located in the neutral zone due to the fact that the puck did not redirect out of play off of the goal frame, boards or protective glass.


QUESTION: An attacking player takes a shot towards the goal, which is deflected by a teammate, and is redirected off of the goal frame and out of play. Where is the ensuing face-off?

ANSWER: The "spirit and intent" of Rule 612.c is to reward a close scoring play with an attacking end-zone face-off. In this case, the face-off should be located in the attacking zone since the initial shot and deflection struck the goal frame and directly left the playing surface.


QUESTIONIs there an acceptable time to be a 3rd man in, in an effort for player safety? If one player is on the ground, defenseless, is it acceptable for a 3rd player to try to stop the player throwing punches?

ANSWER: There is never an acceptable time for an additional player to enter a 1 on 1 altercation. In almost all cases, the game officials will enter the altercation as soon as the players fall to the ice or when things become unfair for one player. Additionally, an additional player entering an altercation would turn it into a 2 on 1 altercation which would be regarded as very unfair and dangerous for the opponent.


QUESTIONHi, I’m looking for a business opportunity, and it is a foldable Hockey stick. Would this be legal in the rules or no?

ANSWER: Rule 301(a) in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

“The sticks shall be made of wood or other material approved by the Rules Committee, and must not have any projections.”

Since a “foldable” stick would likely have some type of hinge that would project from the natural shape of the stick shaft, this would unlikely be approved for use by the USAH Playing Rules Committee.


QUESTIONWhat penalty, if any, is called against a player who attacks his own teammate. The rule book deals with penalties against "an opponent or opposing player" but does not refer to infractions against one's own teammates. For arguments sake, the player slashes and injures a teammates with intent.

ANSWER: The USAH Playing Rules Casebook does have a situation under Rule 615 that deals with two teammates who fight during a game, but since the likelihood of a player slashing a teammate during a game is extremely rare this type of behavior would be left to the coach to deal with. Please note, the Playing Rules only apply to games. Any bad behavior in practice should be dealt with by the coach and team manager.


QUESTION: Helmets removed before during altercation/fight do players get the 5 minute penalty besides game/match? when don't 5 minute penalties accompany game misconduct/match penalties

ANSWER: If players remove their helmets prior to an altercation, they must be assessed a Match penalty in addition to any other penalties they earn during the altercation (Fighting, Roughing, etc.). In other words, the normal Fighting penalties would be assessed for the fight, but they must be assessed the additional Match for removing their helmets prior to the fight.


QUESTIONI have always wanted to be a Ice Hockey referee ever since I stopped playing sled hockey. I was wondering what the guidelines are in terms of someone who is disabled and can’t walk (I have a medical condition that does not allow me to walk and have any function from the waist down and have to use a wheelchair to move about) would this pose any challenges in terms of becoming a referee for able bodied Ice Hockey?

ANSWER: The USA Hockey Officiating Program and Risk Management Council would likely have some concerns about safety if an official were to use a sled in an Abled-Body game. That being said, it might be possible for you to pursue opportunities as a Sled Hockey Official (where everyone is in sleds). The obvious hurdles would be how you would maneuver around during play while signaling a “delayed penalty” (one arm straight in the air), how you would carry a whistle, and how you would blow a whistle with a full face-mask (we’re not certain you could wear a half-shield visor as an official during a sled game).

You could try reaching out to your USA Hockey District Risk Manager and see what they say. Contact information is listed in the USA Hockey Annual Guide which is available at

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