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Bob Motzko’s 5 Keys to the Season

By Jessi Pierce - Special to USA Hockey, 09/30/14, 5:45PM MDT


Grab your whistles and clipboards: Hockey season is almost here. Whether it’s your first year with your son or daughter’s mite team, or you’re a seasoned vet at the 14U or 16U level, all coaches want to enter the year with a fresh set of ideas and a solid plan.

“As a coach, you never want to enter the season unprepared,” said St. Cloud State University head coach Bob Motzko. “Preparation is your biggest tool to take into the year.”

Motzko’s prep skills have earned him plenty of success on the bench. At the helm of the Huskies since 2005, he’s guided his squad to five NCAA tournament appearances, a Frozen Four run and back-to-back conference championships.

Here are his five simple tips to take with you into the 2014-15 season and beyond:

  1. Organize – You absolutely need to be organized. Parents are so busy with so many things in their world, one of the worst things you can be is unorganized. Really have things in detail. Let them know what your practices are going to be. How long are you going to keep them? Are you keeping them longer after practice for a meeting or dryland? Have things spelled out so parents can be prepared. Define to parents how you’re going to proceed through the season – that’s the biggest thing.
  2. Define Ground Rules – Parents are guilty 99 percent of the time of one thing: They love their kids too much. They want to be directly involved with all aspects (of their child’s life) – that comes with the territory of today’s world. What you have to do as a coach is really define the relationship (with their kids) as a coach. Let them know that you’re willing to discuss the safety, well-being and development of their son or daughter at any time, but when it comes to playing time or lines, that’s an off-limits topic and not open for discussion. You were hired and put into this position to coach to the best of your abilities and defining those ground rules will help you do that.
  3. Respect Officials – Being an official is a thankless job. They’re getting beat up from fans, the players and the coach. You always have to keep that in perspective. They are good people who are dedicated to their profession. They don’t go into any game wanting to screw it up. They go in every night with the best intentions. Yes, things are going to happen and there will be times you are going to have discussions with them, but you have to first and foremost believe they have the best intentions. We all want the perfectly officiated game and you just always know you’re probably never going to get that. But those people choosing to be put in that officiating role don’t get enough appreciation for the job they do. Remember that. As a coach, you have to be a leader. Take on that role and respect the officials so your players will do the same.
  4. Watch What You Say – What comes out of your mouth – these players remember that forever. I’ll hear stories years later of something that I said that they remember. Speak from your heart and not your emotions. Keep a level head and know that your words are very powerful to your players. It’s amazing the influence and direction that you have. Just be cautious and don’t let your emotions take over when you’re young in the game because it will be remembered.
  5. Stick to the Basics – If you’re moving up a level in coaching, the game’s going to be faster; it’s going to be more challenging tactically. But everything else is the same. No matter what level, mites or college, it’s all about being organized, having a great practice plan and keeping skill development as the No. 1 part of your game plan. If you stick with the same fundamentals that made you a good coach when you first started, you’re going to do just fine. The game’s going to change, but all the strengths that made you a good coach will continue to be the same.

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2022-23 ATO | WEEK 3

By USA Hockey Officiating Program 09/16/2022, 6:45am MDT

QUESTIONI was a timekeeper at my daughter’s game where the referee disagreed with a "running clock" rule. I was not rude to the ref, however he ejected me from the timekeeper position. The question I have is whether an on-ice official can eject an off-ice official?

ANSWER: The on-ice officials can remove an off-ice official if they feel they are not acting professionally or within the Game Officials’ Code of Conduct of USA Hockey.


QUESTION: During a Two-Official System game, the Front Official mistakenly waves off an icing believing because the goalie left the crease then icing is nullified. The Back Official doesn't blow his whistle as he's unsure why an otherwise obvious icing is waved off. The puck never leaves the end-zone, and a goal is scored. Referees convene and decide the icing rule was misinterpreted. The goal is disallowed. Is this correct call?

ANSWER: If the goal is the result of a missed icing call (officials are 100% certain), and the puck never left the end-zone the goal was scored in, and there are no play stoppages between the missed icing and the goal, then the goal should be disallowed.


QUESTIONIf a player's jersey number is listed incorrectly on the game-sheet, is there a penalty or even a forfeit of the game if the mistake is found after the game? The player is legally rostered, and listed in the playing line-up. The roster label had wrong jersey number listed.

ANSWER: This type of roster clerical issue must be brought to the local governing body of the game (league, hockey association, tournament committee, etc.) to decide upon. Generally, there are no penalties for small clerical errors as long as the player is listed on the game roster.


QUESTION: During a game, a player used the inside of her skate blade to keep the puck under her control (by kicking the puck) and move it ahead. I wondered if that was a legal move? No one else commented on it.

ANSWERRule 627.c in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states:

Kicking the puck shall be permitted provided the puck is not kicked by an attacking player and entered the goal either directly or after deflecting off any player including the goalkeeper.

However, the puck may not be played by the so called "kick shot," which combines the use of the leg and foot driving the shaft and blade of the stick and producing a very dangerous shot.”


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ANSWERPlayers are always accountable for controlling their stick at all times. Therefore, if a player recklessly endangers an opponent as a result of illegal stick contact (even if accidental) then they must be assessed a major plus game misconduct. However, any illegal action of an opponent that causes the illegal stick contact by the player who recklessly endangers the opponent should be penalized too.


The USA Hockey Playing Rules are now available as a mobile device app! Check your Apple, Android, or Windows app store to download this playing rule app free of charge.

Check out the USA Hockey mobile-friendly online rulebook application! Enter into your mobile device’s web browser to gain instant access to the USA Hockey Playing Rules (must have mobile or internet service).

The USA Hockey Playing Rules Casebook and other educational material can be found under the OFFICIALS tab at

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