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No Time For Cobwebs

By Mark Wilkins, 09/19/14, 3:45PM MDT


September and October: exciting months for the sports fan. Baseball gets interesting with the playoffs, college and pro football is underway and training camps are leading us into the NHL season. This also is the time when the amateur hockey season begins percolating. The kids have been looking forward to getting back onto the ice, and we officials are looking forward to getting back on the ice also.

As officials, we must be on top of our game directly out of the gate. In the first game, we set the standard for how we are going to call that game as well as every game thereafter. We do not have a couple of games to shake the cobwebs. Part of our job is to read the rulebook, review positions and, most of all, review the USA Hockey Standard of Play before we call the first game.

The Standard of Play is very important to set in the first game and to maintain throughout the season. If we’re not ready to go and call the first couple of games correctly, we have now created an inconsistent environment and misled the players and coaches as to how we will be calling the games.

The biggest thing coaches and players want is consistency, and they want it from period to period, game to game. Players and coaches see a lot of officials during the season. It’s very important that we all use the Standard of Play as our guide to officiate all of our games.

USA Hockey has more than 24,000 officials and sometimes getting everyone on the same page can be challenging. Some officials seem to think they are setting the standard, but the old saying “let them play” is not the standard.

So before you dust off your officials bag, remember to spend a little time in your own personal training camp and review the rulebook. Be prepared so you can set your standard in the first game and keep that same standard throughout the season. If you’re not prepared, then you’re not only cheating yourself, you are cheating the players, coaches, spectators and your partners.

I wish everyone a great season. See you at the rink.

Mark Wilkins is the officiating section director at USA Hockey.

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