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Steve MN wrote:

Definitely. Love hearing a more personal explanation of some of this. While I’ll get upset and yell at refs at the D1 level, for example… I like to think that I’d be a bit easier going at lower levels (kind of figure that by D1, you should know what you’re doing)

Looking forward to more tales from the ice.

PLEASE go easy on refs at lower levels. Most are learning and brand new. I only made it to where I did because I made a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are wonderful learning opportunities. Once you make a big enough mistake it gets etched in your brain and you make sure you never do that again. Mistakes are going to happen, live with it. Some will be in your kids favor, some won’t be. It will even out over time. Just think about how many mistakes kids make at that level, and don’t be surprised if an official makes a handful in a PeeWee B game. Plus it helps to teach kids how to handle adversity; hey, some nights it doesn’t bounce your way or you get the short straw, it happens. Rather than a mistake being a high crime and needing to be instantly corrected or rectified.

But honestly, at the D1 level and above, hearing it from fans is typically part of the fun. I remember the first time getting boos rained down on me from 8,000 fans in my first D1 game at SCSU and one of my partners skates over winks and says “welcome to the WCHA” while flying by, I couldn’t have had a bigger smile on my face at that point in time. Which probably got a few more boos. You don’t really want to be noticed, but the jeers let you know its still a big deal. And yes, by the time you get to D1 you should know what you are doing. I’ll never forgot how upset fans get when the implement new rules (IE using hands to win a faceoff) and start screaming at the officials without realizing it is a brand new rule.

However, the personal attacks are poor form. I remember being in the stands when Gopher fans were going after Campion one night and chanting “ref beats his wife” and things like that. All while his wife is going through cancer treatment. So don’t ever go places like that. On the other hand “Does your wife know you’re screwing us?” will usually get a chuckle. I hope people can see the difference. Random guy yelling “Get a pregnancy test ref, you just missed the last period!” funny. Random guy yelling “Ref, you f*****g suck” not funny or intelligent and rather tasteless.

Maybe a few fun stories?

One of the coolest things in the world, in my opinion, is coming out of a dark tunnel, pre-game crowd pump-up music blaring, lasers and stages lights flashing, taking a running start and hitting those for few strides on a freshly zammed sheet of ice. Oh man! If I could bottle up that feeling and just take a little sip from it here and there. My first game in Lincoln, NE for the USHL — goosebumps. At the time, they had a better pre-game sequence than most NHL teams.

Being at the teddy bear toss game one year at a packed Resch Center in Green Bay was cool. GB scores in the 2nd period, lights dim, spotlights go on, music blares and thousands of teddy bears start raining from sky. Best part was not having to pick it up, just getting to observe while the arena staff took care of it. Pretty cool and fun thing just to experience.

I was working a game in Rio Grande Valley, TX for the CHL (Rock ’em, Sock ’em hockey League). That night they had a special where if the home team scored a Power Play goal, Beer would be $2 for the next 2:00. I remember after the first PPG seeing the mad rush to the concessions. They went on to score 4 total power play goals that night, and I think we had at least 3 if not 4 fights. I had my arm up for a penalty in the third and think I got a standing ovation, haha. I think they were ready to throw me a party that night. After the game in the locker room we each had a pizza and 2 beers from the team, and the GM came down to laugh about his record sales night. Looking back, I now slightly cringe at the thought of the amount of DWIs that could’ve happened that night.

I remember one night I flipped the puck to a 7/8 year old kid at the end of a college game, and he was so pumped. The next night I hear some banging on the glass during warmups and the parents point to the same kid, now in a referee sweater tonight. So I went to the locker room a got one of my still packaged whistles and gave it to him. The “What did you just do?” look on his parent’s face was priceless. I hope the kid gave it a shot one day, or at least is the “hey, not so hard on the refs people” guy in his group. I always tired to flip pucks to kids, give knuckles and smiles, etc. to people. I hope that if people see that we are people too, actual human beings, that we aren’t so different, maybe things will improve.

Mankato had a company (among many) donate towards the Arena renovations and this one, I am told, specifically asked to be part of the officials room renovation. The new room was a HUGE improvement over the old one. They also made sure there was a cooler with ice and 4 tall Coors Lights in it at the end of every game regardless of outcome. How cool is that? Another game in Mankato I got my hand cut open by a players skate on a faceoff, needed 8 stitches. Team doctor, from Mayo clinic comes down and stitches me up. Checks on me between periods and before the game the next night. I never saw a bill from that. USA Hockey – I take a stick to the mouth breaking up a Jr. Gold B fight and need a crown. They tell me they don’t cover anything until I have paid $1,000 out of pocket. So the game I get paid WAY more to do, I don’t pay a dime. The game I only get paid $60 to work, I have to pay my own $750 dental deductible. Noted.

Being an on-ice official in the WCHA (pre split) was the coolest side job I could’ve ever asked for and I am so happy I had a chance to do it for 4 seasons before the split. I had the best seat in the house to the best college hockey conference in the country 4 nights a month. It was incredible, sure plenty of games were stressful, but there were plenty of nights where we would sit around afterwards and say “can you believe we get paid to do this?” Unfortunately, things got weird after the split, things became much more business like. Still worked games, it was just never quite the same (as I am sure nearly everyone on here can attest to). Even UMD vs MTU was way more fun than MNSU vs LSSU… Ended up having a scheduling conflict and had to “turn back” a series I was scheduled for so I could travel for work. Never saw the ice again that year, the following season I was removed from the scheduling software, email & phone list, and it was all over. I left 2 voicemails and sent several emails, none of which were responded to. I never got to soak in a “last game”, take time to be the last one off the ice and give a look around. Enjoy what you have, cause you never know when it will all be over.

NCAA Road trips were fun. Although, around the time of the split, some fans were upset about the outcome of a game and phone-filmed the officials drinking and laughing at a local bar after the game and sent it to the league. I mean, heaven forbid someone have a few cold ones and a good time after work. Suddenly you couldn’t go to a bar within a certain radius of the arena. Then some coaches got mad about guys having a beer in the locker room after the game and that got axed as well. “My guys just lost a hard fought game, and they have to walk past the officials room and see them drinking and laughing?” – oh, the horrors!!! People need to take a chill pill.