The USA Hockey Officiating Program is responsible for the registration, testing and education of approximately 24,000 ice hockey officials in the United States. Officials who are registered with USA Hockey actively officiate all sanctioned games, tournaments and other events. These events are played at all levels ranging from youth hockey to the Olympic Games.
The Officiating Program provides the opportunity for officials to gain the proper experience at the lower levels of competition and promotes the more experienced, talented officials to high ranks of officiating such as collegiate, minor professional, USA Hockey National Championships, International and Olympic competition, and even graduates top program members to the National Hockey League. Officiating USA Hockey-sanctioned games offers a unique opportunity to practice and further develop on-ice skills while providing a safe environment in which all participants may compete.
USA Hockey registers male and female officials between the ages of 14 and older. These officials are recruited from all aspects of life. Players, students, adults and parents are all welcome to join the program and participate as on-ice officials. Even those who aspire to a career in professional officiating begin in the ranks of USA Hockey.
People officiate for many different reasons. Officiating is a great way to supplement a playing career. It provides players with an “extra edge” that comes from the additional ice time and rules knowledge that they receive. Ex-players find officiating a rewarding method to stay involved in ice hockey, while parents can enhance their child’s involvement in the game by participating as well. Students find the additional income helpful in financing their education. Above all, most officials are involved because they love the sport. There is a great deal of self-satisfaction after completing a well-officiated game.
All officials who work sanctioned games must register with the USA Hockey Officiating Program. This involves the completion of a simple registration form and the payment of a nominal annual registration fee. After registering, the applicant must pass an open-book rules exam that is designed to cover the basic playing rules that are required at the lower levels. New officials will also have to obtain a black hockey helmet, official’s sweater, black trousers and a whistle.
The Officiating Program conducts over 400 pre-season educational seminars for its officials during the fall months. These full-day seminars are mandatory for all officials registering with USA Hockey. All seminars are conducted free-of-charge to all participants. The content of these educational seminars ranges from on-ice skills to rules interpretations to advanced theories of officiating. As experience is gained, officials advance to higher level seminars.
The Officiating Program establishes “levels of achievement” for each individual, from the beginner to the highly-skilled official.
First-year officials must register as a Level 1 official and may officiate at the lower levels of hockey. New officials who have past experience in officiating ice hockey may register at a different level, on a case-by-case basis, as determined by the District Referee-in-Chief.
LEVEL 1: May officiate games at age levels 8 or Under – 12 or Under (Mites through Pee-Wees) after completion of the registration and testing process in addition to attending a pre-season seminar.
LEVEL 2: May officiate at the 14 or Under (Bantam) and younger age classes after completion of the registration and testing process and after one or two years at Level 1. Attendance at a pre-season seminar is mandatory.
LEVEL 3: The Level 3 official has proven his abilities over a period of years. The official is required to complete all registration and testing requirements and must attend a pre-season seminar. Level 3 officials may referee games through the 17 or Under age classification (Midget) as well as Over 20 (Senior) and act as a Linesman for Junior hockey games (19 and under).
LEVEL 4: Level 4 officials may work all levels of USA Hockey. Applicants must have one year experience at Level 3, must successfully complete the open-book exam, the closed-book exam, a skating test and attend a pre-season seminar.