There’s something about amateur hockey that often brings out the worst in anybody. This includes coaches, scorekeepers, and yup, USA Hockey.
Let’s start with the governing body. USA Hockey publishes a weekly educational piece online called Ask the Official. As many of you readers know, it poses allegedly submitted questions, and then USA Hockey provides answers, or more accurately, dances around the issue without giving a definitive ruling – something Officially Speaking would never do.
Here’s this week’s question and answer, copied and pasted directly from USA Hockey:
QUESTION: In a youth game a player is assessed the following penalties: a major for slashing, a minor for roughing, and a minor for unsportsmanlike behavior, a total of nine minutes. The penalties were all called in the early part of a 12-minute period. How many players are placed in the penalty box?
ANSWER: If one player is assessed nine minutes in penalties (all minors or majors) all at one time, the offending player enters the penalty bench, nine minutes are added to the penalty clock and the teams play 5 v. 4 for the next nine minutes (assuming no other penalties are assessed or goals are scored during the next nine minutes).
Wow! Are you kidding us, USA Hockey? You just changed the rule two years ago to provide that a major penalty for slashing is automatic game misconduct! So how do you come off confusing everyone that does not read Let’s Play Hockey’s Officially Speaking column by suggesting that the offending player receiving a slashing major, plus two minors “enters the penalty bench?” Unreal.
Next, let’s talk pee wee house coaches. As a favor to the local organization, OS recently officiated a pee-wee house contest. In the second period, a player stick handles the puck right back into his own defensive zone while an opponent is clearly inside the blue line. Naturally, the house leaguer loses possession and the opponent retrieves the puck and scores. The coach then starts screaming it was offside. Okay, so this is a pee wee house coach, which is actually below a low-level JV coach, meaning OS will cut him some slack for being ignorant.
But when the guy continues screaming after I explain again that the player intentionally stick-handled the puck into his defensive zone which nullifies offside, I know this is going to be good.
“It’s not delayed offside!” he screams in my ear.
“Doesn’t matter,” I yell back.
“Yeah, well I’m a referee,” he retorts, to the senior official in Nevada, a 33-year veteran.
“If you’re actually a referee,” I tell him, “Then I’m calling the association after the game and having you de-listed.”
Which is exactly what I did. The problem was, the president of the association advised OS that this ref/pee wee house coach skated about 3 games in September and then quit after one month.
Only in amateur hockey.
And finally, the scorekeeper. Look, when OS is standing at center ice with the puck in hand and all teams in position for the opening face-off and it’s three minutes after scheduled ice slot time and it’s a holiday weekend tournament which means the games must start early or on time at worst, you do not ever do what this scorekeeper did.
She started the warm-up clock at game time, even though the teams were already on the ice early and had just about finished warming up when the scorekeeper came to the box with her food.
And even though there was 1:20 on the warm-up clock as OS was about to drop the puck at the center, she refused to set the clock down and put the 14:00 period time on the board. This means two refs, two teams, and 100 spectators were at the mercy of this rogue scorekeeper.
OS would have none of it. I skated over to the end boards, pounded on the glass, got the attention of the tournament director, and told him I’m not starting the game until the scorekeeper is booted out of there, reminding him of the following rule found in the USA Hockey Glossary:
Off-Ice Officials are those appointed to assist in the conduct of the game and may include the Official Scorer, Game Timekeeper, Penalty Timekeeper, and the two Goal Judges. The Referee has general supervision of the game and full control of the game officials. In the case of any dispute, the Referee’s decision shall be final.
When the tournament director pleaded with OS that there were no other persons to run the clock, OS responded with the usual diplomacy.
“Then tell the scorekeeper to apologize to me,” I demanded.
And with a bit of encouragement from the tournament director, that is exactly what happened.
Like I said. Only in amateur hockey
Questions, comments, and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, via Twitter @OSpeaking, or through the Let’s Play Hockey Facebook page.