The Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC), organized in 1976, is an independent volunteer organization that selects standards including test methods to validate that HECC certified equipment is made according to the selected standard.
HECC is not a standard making group but does select the standard to be used. HECC has selected the ASTM standard for hockey helmets and facemasks for the last forty years, except for the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) from which HECC selected their half visor standard (ASTM did not have such a standard).
The HECC Certification Program involves three parts:
HECC does not write standards. HECC only selects standards that have already been approved by some recognized standards-writing organization. These standards serve as a basis for the HECC certification programs. This initial phase of standard writing requires input from three groups, consumers, manufacturers, and general interest. It is important that this is a consensus standard, and that there is equal representation from each of the three groups. If manufacturers dominate the standard acceptance procedure, it is possible that a standard will not be stringent enough to provide minimum protection. On the other hand, dominance by consumers may result in a standard that is impractical from a manufacturing or an economical standpoint. The general interest members include university researchers, medical professionals, and test laboratory personnel, who can add expertise that is not included in the manufacturer and consumer groups.
At this time, HECC contracts with a single accredited testing agency, Intertek Testing Services located in Cortland, New York. A bid for these services is put out every three years.
Membership in HECC is open to any and all individuals with an interest in safer equipment and better performances in ice hockey. The Executive Committee of HECC consists of five officers and three members plus an alternate from the three groups: general interest members, consumers, and manufacturer representatives. In addition to the elected members, a Chairman of the Certification Committee is appointed by the President to serve on the Executive Committee. HECC hires a legal counsel to advise HECC on legal matters.
It’s an off-season that continues to be full of changes, reactionary and planned, as all of us in the USA Hockey Officiating Department forge forward in the new normal. Our efforts are consistently focused on ensuring safety, fun and development for players, coaches and officials.
One issue that continues to arise is the abuse of officials and the effects it has on retention. To counter and help improve the environment, USA Hockey’s rules sub-committee has been focused and committed to solutions.
This sub-committee was established to define and recommend programs to confront this problem. As a result of this, a first step was taken at the recent Annual Congress to amend the Zero Tolerance Policy. Several proposals were made and adopted by the Board of Directors to constructively confront this problem.
These changes strongly recommend things like game officials introducing themselves to the coach during warm-ups in order to start the communication process and set some guidelines for in-game communication.
The parents/spectators section was amended to clearly state the behavioral expectations of this group. Another strong recommendation added to this section was to establish a parent/spectator monitor by each local youth hockey team for all games. Ideally, this monitor will address and de-escalate parent/spectator behavior before it impacts the game and the officials have to stop play.
Also added, a reminder to administrators that they are responsible for taking any appropriate disciplinary action towards parents/spectators that are removed from a game as a result of a violation of the Zero Tolerance Policy.
Navigating New Norms
As we all still grapple with the effects of the pandemic, the Officiating Program has been working to develop effective ways to fulfill our educational responsibilities when it comes to the annual registration process. To that end, the only process that provides educational value and a safe environment is with virtual seminars. A format and curriculum was developed and approved by the District RIC’s. This was distributed to all of the District RIC’s for implementation as they see fit. Due to the many different and ever-changing restrictions around the country, if the situation arises where in-person seminars can be held then the District RIC can also schedule them as needed. The Virtual Seminar Program is the best solution for this season. As situations change, the Officials Section will revisit this program for all future seasons.
Every Tuesday, the Officiating Education Program will present an hour-long webinar on various topics of interest and importance to not only USA Hockey’s officials but the entire membership. These panel discussions will cover topics such as abuse and zero tolerance, communication, player safety, as well as items such as game management and positioning within the three recognized USA Hockey Officiating systems. Panelists will include some of the top officials in the country and other experts from the hockey world whose goal will be to inform, entertain and encourage the USA Hockey community to learn more about officiating.
Getting officials from their first year to their third season is a key focus for the Officiating Education Program. Helping officials understand the basics of the craft and giving them a supportive resource is what the Mentor Project is all about. USA Hockey is helping local Officials Associations put together the framework where a mentor gets matched with a new official and works with them not only in their first month or second, but is a constant resource for the new official throughout their first couple of seasons. Learning about how to read the rule book, navigate the challenges of getting assignments and become a proficient official are all goals of the mentor project.
Again, we hope everyone is safe and sane as we prepare for a different landscape of hockey – but we are excited to welcome it, and you, back to the game.
See you at the rink!
Tag(s): Player Safety & Health