By Mark Lichtenfeld.  Originally published at


The Presidents’ Day hockey tournament just concluded and it was another great weekend of decent hockey and exquisite weather. So for those of you parents, coaches and managers that have never considered flying out to the Entertainment Capital of the World for a holiday tournament, let me advise you via personal observation that the Las Vegas Ice Center puts on a first-class act.



I’m talking professional announcers, great music between whistles, live streaming games you can watch on a computer or even in the lobby, laser-light player introductions and of course, a great bar overlooking the north rink. Yup, not many tournaments where I come from put out a show like this, and truth be told, some of the Ice Center’s announcers would give Alan, the venerable Skokie men’s league scorekeeper, a good run for his money.


Anyway, as us veteran Level 3s know, tournament teams have a responsibility to the tournament itself. And nothing is quite as offensive as a team slotted for the first game of the tournament to be late coming to the ice. Sadly, I’m talking 6 a.m., Friday morning. Look, a 6 a.m., start time means the warm-ups start at 6. So when a team isn’t ready to take the ice at 6, and the referee instructs the scorekeeper to start the clock, then the clock must start. And as a public service to the teams, officiating crews and everyone else scheduled for later that day and evening, I guarantee you that a rink running late is never going to be on me. Ten second warm-up? Too bad coach. Just like officiating a game – call a tight warm-up clock and you’ll never show up late again. That’s personal responsibility, and trust me, I’m happy to be the instructor.


Speaking of instruction, instructors, and by way of analogy, coaches for a team of 9 year-old Squirts, it would do you well to set a prime example for your kids by perusing the rules before trying to show up an official, particularly a 25-year veteran zebra that writes the referee column for a national magazine. So when you, Mr. late-arriving-to-the-ice Coach, tells me that slap shots are illegal in Squirts, I know immediately what type of guy I’m dealing with. And when a talented opposing Squirt takes a hard shot from the point without raising his stick above his waist, I say that’s as legal as certain houses of trade in neighboring Nye County. Got that?


Moreover, when you, Mr. late-arriving Coach, tries to compliment me for calling icing against your team right after assessing a penalty to one of your guys, please suck it up when I advise you in that special OS way that my partner called a penalty on the other team 45 seconds earlier. That’s four-on-four, right? And I thought this was Squirt AA.


Yeah, that was the first of 13 games for the weekend. And right about 6:30 a.m., it didn’t portend well. But guess what? The rest of my games were Midget 16s and 18s. Reffed some. Lined more. Couple nights leaving the rink at 11:15 p.m., and driving right back for a 6 a.m., triple the next morning. But it was good. Fun. A nice treat to see teams from California, Canada, Utah, Wyoming and Arizona. And every single one of my games ended with handshakes from all the players and coaches. No brawls or misconducts on my watch, which is what all us vets strive for.


Hockey in the desert. So hear this all you Midwestern parents and team managers – at least consider coming out here for one of the Ice Center’s big tournaments. The change of scenery would be pleasant for all, and speaking on behalf of us Central District guys, we’d love to see some of our heartland teams enter the mix.


I don’t know about you, but when it’s 72 and sunny in early February, even those teams going 0-4 came out big winners.


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Officially Speaking is originally published at
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Reprinted with permission.