By Mark Lichtenfeld.  Originally published at


There is nothing worse than a low-level JV game. By low-level, I’m referring to those teams consisting of guys from the football squad that recently took up hockey just to keep themselves busy during the winter, which of course is a good thing.


But you know the type of games I’m referring to – skaters with the finesse of offensive linemen and with the same brains, too. The way they check looks eerily reminiscent of guys colliding off the line of scrimmage. And let’s not even talk about skating. Yeah, those games are like football on ice.


But the problem is the coaches.


OK, most low-level JV games I’ve done have been played consistently, with mutual respect emanating from the contestants. They know their limitations and are just happy to have a club team to play for.


But coaches are another story. These guys seem to be oblivious to the talent level they are working with. They think every victory brings them one step closer to the big-time, that being a “promotion” to the low-level spring league varsity team. They hate losing. They hate anything that stands in the way of that next step in “career advancement.” They hate the Zamboni driver. They loathe the scorekeeper. And naturally, they despise us veteran officials.


Here’s how it always goes:


“Another awful game, ref.”


“Well, at least I’m consistent.”




“You two are horrible.”


“Why do you think we got assigned to this game?”


Think I’m making this stuff up? Well, us veteran Level 3s know better. And here’s another letter to the OS mailbox for elucidation (names changed to protect the guilty):


Central coach Jones who I know as “Mr. farbisene pants” says this is just a practice game we scheduled.


OK, coach.


First period check from behind from Central. Two-and-10. Coach says he will go to locker room after his misconduct (Nice).


Later in first, cross-check behind the play to the head. My partner calls it and asks me my opinion. I say it was to the head so two-and-10. Coach Jones, “Well I better see you call those both ways.”


Assistant Central coach: “Watch 51 he’s been slashing all game.”


 “OK, coach.”  (It’s bad JV. I could’ve called 25 penalties).   


Central up 4-1 in third. Central player tries to get around NorthSide defense. He leans into the defensive player and stops moving his feet. I’m with the play stride for stride, Central player goes down because his skates come out from underneath him when he loses an edge and NorthSide defense does a great job of cutting him off to the net. Central coach, “Where’s the call?” (Central coach on other end of ice 100 feet away). “No call coach, your player initiated the contact and stopped moving his feet.”  “Awwww that’s brutal.”


5-1 Central in third. 2:45 left in game. NorthSide player turns for breakout pass 10 feet inside the defensive zone. Central player starting outside the zone with plenty of time to hold up check from behind. But he clocks the NorthSide kid from behind anyway. “Put someone in box to serve his two.”


Central coach: “He was turning.”


“No coach, he turned five seconds before the hit. Your kid had plenty of time to avoid the hit.” (Me right on top of play at blue line on bleachers side. Central coach 100 feet away with limited view).


After game I skate away to avoid confrontation. My partner was told worst reffed game ever. (Exhibition game 5-1). Then the assistant lit my partner up and got gamed.


Classic. You just can’t make this stuff up. And trust me, I know the offending coach. Yeah, the guy comes to the game with a scowl on his puss like he just wolfed down a week-old filet-o-fish sandwich coupled with a stale fruitcake chaser. You know he hates you before you set the nets up. Doesn’t matter. Spring league on the line, right?


If you’re reading OS, you are definitely not that kind of coach. Thing is, not everyone reads OS.


Yeah, the low-level JV game. Like us veteran Level 3s always say, it’s not the players.


It’s the coaches.

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Officially Speaking is originally published at
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Reprinted with permission.