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The Official's Corner - August 2018

By Eugene Binda, 08/06/18, 8:00AM EDT


Massachusetts Announces Seminar Dates for 2018-19 Season

BOSTON, MA -- As the late, great Jim Prior, the voice of Boston University hockey and just about any other hockey arena in the Northeast, would say at the start of the game, “Ladies and gentlemen, the teams are ready, so let’s play hockey.”

August is the start of the officiating registration period. With the amount of hockey being played now in the USA, and especially the east, it is important to get to a seminar early and complete all requirements before the November 30th deadline.

From the NHL to town hockey, we are vigorously pursuing ex-college players or anyone else who has played the game to come and join the understaffed and, in most cases, overworked officiating ranks. We have had some success in recruiting new officials, however, we have nowhere near the numbers we need to replace the pool of retiring or officials who have lost interest for a number of reasons.

For those who are interested in joining the ranks, there are a number of requirements that need to be completed before you can start officiating.

First is registering for USA Hockey. Below are the steps for registering and the dates of the seminars. Outside of Massachusetts, check your local USA Hockey District’s page for district-specific seminars and dates.

Step 1

Register with USA Hockey. Go to the USA Hockey online registration website and follow the directions to complete the Ice Hockey Officials registration for a Level 1 official. 

There is a fee for Level 1 officials (fee schedule to be posted). These fees cover the cost of registration, your rulebook, test materials, and insurance coverage for the season.

You should complete the online registration immediately after attending the seminar to avoid delays in the registration process. You can apply online before you attend the seminar, but if you apply and cannot attend a seminar, you cannot complete your registration. 

USA Hockey does not offer refunds for incomplete registrations.

Step 2

Attend a USA Hockey Officiating Seminar. Seminars are scheduled on weekends beginning in August, running through October. There are a few makeup seminars in November and sometimes December, but don’t wait for a late seminar. November and December seminars are only scheduled based on local need.

There are four seminar levels. You must attend a Level 1 seminar. Everybody starts as a Level 1. You may advance one level each year until you become a Level 4. You must be a Level 1 for a full season before you are eligible for Level 2.

Reserve your seat at the seminar using the USA Hockey Seminar Reservation System. Bring materials to take notes and the mandatory equipment listed below.

There is no charge for a seminar and you are not obligated in any way if you choose not to complete your registration.

At the seminar, you will receive instruction in the basics of officiating. Classroom topics that will be covered include the rulebook, signals, positioning, equipment and penalty calling procedures. On the ice you will learn power skating techniques, how to conduct a faceoff, and participate in positioning drills.

Continued study will be necessary and you will receive a Basic Officiating Manual to read at home.

Things to bring to the seminar:

  • Paper and Pencil

New officials:

  • Helmet with half-shield
  • Hockey player skates – not goalie or figure skates
  • Whistle – one that fits on the fingers, NOT on a lanyard

Returning officials:

  • Full equipment
  • Rulebook

The seminar requires that you are in attendance for the entire event!
No late arrivals.
No early dismissal.
Levels 2’s and level 3’s – There is a closed-book exam for these levels, so be prepared!

Step 3

Once your registration fee is received by USA Hockey, you will be sent information on how to take the online open book test. You will also be sent a rulebook in the mail.

You must attain a passing grade of 35 out of 50. The questions are designed to familiarize the new official with the rulebook. If you fail to pass on the first attempt, you will be given a second chance to take the test. Do not attempt to take the open book test without the rulebook. Every year, we get people who think they know the rules only to find that they are on their second attempt to take the test.

Hint: print out the online test and as you take the test, write the rule number for each answer on the test next to the question. When you complete the test, USA Hockey will score the test and tell you the rule numbers of the questions that you missed. It’ll help you if you fail the test the first time.

If you pass the test, you will receive a membership card and crest. You are now certified to serve as Referee or Linesman in any USA Hockey game.

Simply registering is not a guarantee of being assigned games. It is the responsibility of the official to contact the schedulers when they receive their certification and crest.

Assignment of games is not necessarily done by equality and may be based on availability, skill level, or other factors. Availability of games may fluctuate based on seasonal demand and other requirements established by the individually owned hockey rinks.

The USA Hockey season runs from August to August. You must renew your registration every season to remain current and eligible to officiate.

You can advance one level each season, so if you complete your first year as a Level 1, you can apply at Level 1 or Level 2 the following season. There is a four-month grace period for renewal, so although the season runs from August 1 to August 1, you have until Nov. 30 each year to complete your renewal. If you do not complete all requirements for renewal, you will be ineligible to officiate on Dec. 1.

The requirements for renewal at the higher levels are more stringent. At Level 2 and 3, the open book test has 100 questions and you will be required to pass a closed book test at the seminar.

Level 4’s must pass open book, closed book and on-ice skating tests. However, as you progress you will be allowed to attend advanced training camps and may possibly be selected to work national championship, collegiate or Olympic games. Many professional officials began their career with USA Hockey.

In order officiate you need to get USA Hockey Certified you can find out all the requirements at Kevin Donovan the Massachusetts Referee in Chief has released the USA Hockey Seminar Dates.

When you go to register please think about moving up through the levels as you develop your officiating career. Because if you would like to be considered to work a National Championship Tournament, you need to be a Level 4 (this year, we sent seven officials and we would like to send more officials to these tournaments).

If you are interested in attending one of USA Hockey’s Development camps again, you need to progress through the levels (this year we have eight officials attend camps and would like to send more).

The site is the one stop shop for all the information on what’s happening in Massachusetts with links to all the seminars.

Dates and Locations are subject to change, but they are pretty solid at this point.

Registration opens August 1, 2018
8/22 – Shrewsbury Level 3
8/25 – Shrewsbury Level 1 + Level 2
8/26 – Agawam Level 1 + Level 2 + Level 3
9/8 – Andover Level 1 + Level 2
9/11 – Andover Level 3
9/22 – Hyannis Level 1 + Level 2 + Level 3
10/4 – Level 4
10/10 – Canton Level 3
10/13 – Canton Level 1 + Level 2

Please also think about signing up and following us on Twitter for all the latest information.

Please note that you cannot register for a seminar until August 1, and you must register with USA Hockey as an official before registering for a seminar.

While we hope not, dates and locations are subject to change due to things outside of our control.

For those officials who are currently USA Registered or Members of National Ice Hockey Officials (NIHOA) Association who are interested in advancing to the junior and collegiate levels, there are several midget and junior tournaments throughout the season that will include secondary training on player safety, game management, and on-ice mechanics for all officiating systems.

After successful completion of the classes you will added to the staffs at the junior level to The United States Premier Hockey League and The Eastern Hockey League, which are the training leagues for Atlantic Hockey Association.

I will also add you to the staffs of College Hockey America, a Division I Women’s League and the following men’s leagues; the Northeast 10 Conference (Division II), the Commonwealth Coast Conference (Division III), and the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (Division III).

More Info

Eugene Binda is the President of Referees Crease LLC assigning and developing ice hockey official’s in the East since 1982. He can be reached at