USA Hockey recently concluded its inaugural sled hockey officiating camp in Buffalo, New York. The participants in this unique program received three days of instruction on rule differences and fundamentals of officiating one of USA Hockey’s most successful and fastest growing programs.
Johnathan Morrison is one of USA Hockey’s most experienced sled hockey officials. In addition to more than 10 years of experience working minor professional and NCAA Division I hockey, Morrison has worked six International Paralympic Committee World Championship events and three Paralympics. USA Hockey asked him to explain what makes sled hockey officiating different and why it’s important to find development opportunities for officials.
USA Hockey: What attracted you to working sled hockey?
Johnathan Morrison: I love the challenge of sled hockey. Sled has subtle differences that makes an official rethink how they've worked for years.
USAH: What local opportunities exist for sled hockey officials?
Morrison: There are great local sled hockey clubs popping up throughout the country. Places like Chicago, St. Louis, Tampa, Denver and San Antonio have local club teams with top-level players.
USAH: What about at the international level?
Morrison: The IPC hosts events every year that culminate with the A and B pool World Championships. They also have Challenge Cups between countries like the U.S. and Canada, and the European Championships. So the number of opportunities is growing.
USAH: Why is the development of sled hockey officials important?
Morrison: We have to develop sled officials as the sport advances. Both the officiating and the game have to develop at the same pace, otherwise the officiating could drag the game down.
USAH: What are the biggest challenges and differences to adapting as a sled hockey official?
Morrison: First off, it's the positioning. When you referee sled hockey, you have to be right on top of the play to see the infractions, because the players are lower to the ice. As a linesman, you have to learn to be much more patient when it comes to icings, because players aren't playing with a longer stick.
USAH: Where do you see this development camp going from Year 1 to Year 2?
Morrison: I see the development camp moving in the same direction that the women's officiating program took when that sport exploded in popularity. We need to develop methods to not only train top-level officials, but just as important, we've got to find those officials who have a passion for sled hockey and give them opportunities to succeed as officials.
NOTES: The 2016 USA Hockey Sled Hockey Officiating Development Camp will be held at the State University of New York at Buffalo (Buffalo, New York) in July. All interested candidates should contact Brad Roethlisberger (USA Hockey disabled hockey referee-in-chief) using the contact information posted here.
Tag(s): Stripes Newsletter