USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program is a key initiative under the leadership of USA Hockey’s Officiating Education Department. It’s an advanced development program that identifies and trains USA Hockey officials who want to work the highest levels of hockey. Through the ODP, officials are assigned to games across the spectrum of junior hockey (USHL, NAHL, NA3HL) and the Southern Professional Hockey League. This multi-tiered structure provides officials with the opportunity to develop their skills, advance at each level and reach their fullest potential.
Along with in-depth coaching and education, officials are provided exposure to games at an appropriate level throughout the country. While most officials work from their hometown, some in the program have the option to relocate and live in league-sponsored housing during the season. These apartments are centrally located in the footprint of the leagues we assign. This puts the officials within driving distance to the cities they need to be in to work challenging games and develop.
The ODP utilizes a staff of supervisors with extensive hockey backgrounds to evaluate performance during games and provide instant feedback. Pre-season camps and other tools such as video clips are used to help officials learn the essential skills to succeed.
The officials in our program must be USA Hockey registered officials who are no younger than 18 and not much older than 25 years-of-age. We look for excellent skaters and athletes who are willing to learn and have a desire to improve. While an extensive amount of officiating experience is not a requirement for the Officiating Development Program, our officials have mastered the fundamental skills of officiating and are ready to accept challenges at higher levels of the game.
In addition to athleticism and superior skating ability, great officials possess a full understanding of the game of hockey. They know how to enforce the rules and protocols of the game and also can relate to the emotions and inherent stresses that come along with competitive hockey at the highest levels. They can “think” their way through a game and are able to understand how their actions and inactions affect the way the game is played. All great officials are coachable and can learn from every situation that they are put in, both positive and negative. They are always watching, listening and learning.
Upon completing the Officiating Development Program, officials often move on to work in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, ECHL, American Hockey League, top-level international tournaments and the National Hockey League.
Many officials have graduated from USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program and reached the highest levels of hockey, including every American official that has recently been hired by the NHL. Some of the ODP’s most successful graduates include:
Tom Chmielewski (NHL)
Kieth Kaval (AHL, IIHF)
Brian Pochmara (NHL)
Ian Walsh (NHL)
Jake Brenk (NHL)
Brian Mach (NHL)
Bryan Pancich (NHL)
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