As the Voice Of Boston University and just about any other hockey arena in the east, Jim Prior would start the game with “Ladies and gentlemen, the teams are ready so let’s play hockey.”
August is the start of the officiating registration period and with the amount of hockey being played now in the U.S.A., and especially the Eastern U.S., it is important to get to an officiating seminar early and complete all requirements before the Nov. 30 deadline.
From the NHL down to town hockey, we are vigorously pursuing ex-college players or anyone else who has played the game to come and join the under-staffed and, in most cases, overworked officiating ranks.
We have had some success, however, nowhere near the numbers of officials 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. To find the link to your local chapter, go online to nihoa.arbitersports.com.
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, 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.
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 face-off, 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.
Helmet with half-shield
Hockey player skates – not goalie or figure skates
Whistle – one that fits on the fingers, not on a lanyard
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. Be prepared!
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 Levels 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 to officiate, you need to get USA Hockey-certified, you can find out all the requirements at usahockey.com.
Kevin Donovan, the Massachusetts Referee in Chief, has released the USA Hockey Seminar Dates.
Below are the dates as of July 22:
Aug. 8-9 – Haverhill – Two nights, New Officials Only
Aug. 23 – Level 3 – St Johns H.S. – Shrewsbury
Aug. 26 – Levels 1-2 – Algonquin H.S.
Aug. 27 – Level 1-3 – Agawam
Sept. 9 – Level 1-2 – Andover
Sept. 12 – Level 3 – Andover
Sept. 16 – Level 1-3 – Barnstable
Oct. 5 – Level 4 – Marlboro
Oct. 11 – Level 3 – Canton
Oct. 14 – Level 1-2 – Canton
When you go to register, please think about moving up through the levels as you develop your officiating career. 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 attending camps, and we would like to send more.
Our Massofficials.com site is the one stop shop for all the information on what’s happening in Massachusetts with links to all the seminars.
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.
Eugene Binda is the President of Referees Crease LLC assigning and developing ice hockey officials in the East since 1982. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Read past Officials Corner columns in our archives: