By Mark Lichtenfeld.  Originally published at

So it’s 3:30 p.m., and I received a request to work a 7 p.m., adult game that night. Time slot is great, but normally there’s a three-set so it’s odd to see a single available. Nevertheless, I snapped up the offer.When I get to the rink, I find out that there is a three-set, but the scheduled official couldn’t make the first game. That’s OK, even if I don’t get the extra $5 supplement for a single since the rink books it as a triple.

Fast-forward to the third period. Guys crashing the net. Loose puck in front. My eyes laser at the goal line. The puck crosses. Suddenly, a crash by the rear boards. I look up. One guy appears dazed. I saw enough to figure it’s a high hit. I assess the goal, then discuss the penalty with my partner.

“Looked like a head-check. Two-and-10, no?”

“I want the guy out of here,” he says. “Major and game for elbowing.”

“That’s a game report,” I say.

“You write it up.”

“Nope,” I grunt. “We both write it up per local rules.”

OK, in my association, both officials are required to write up game misconducts. I’m not going to argue about the propriety of this rule. I’m just stating this as part of the story. And since this was an early game and I figured to have plenty of time to write up the incident report at home, I figured no big deal.

Yes, readers, USA Hockey and local affiliates require an official to prepare paperwork for majors and game misconducts. You’d think that the league administrators would simply take action upon receipt of the game sheet from the scorekeeper. You would think an “independent contractor” official has no further work to do once the teams leave the ice after the final buzzer.


So after the game ends I hustle over to the scorer’s bench.

“Need a copy of the sheet,” I say.

“Only one copy,” answers the scorekeeper. I’ll bring it to the supervisor up front.”

No big thing, I think. So I get dressed and specifically advise my partner to make sure he also gets a sheet at the conclusion of his triple. Then I leave and head right to the office.

“Where’s the sheet?” I ask.

“No copy machine. Office locked.”

“I need to write up a report.”

“Tell you what, give me your e-mail and I’ll scan it to you within the hour after I find someone to open the office.”

“Sounds good.” So I write down my e-mail and expect it in my inbox by 9 p.m.

At 10:30 p.m., I still don’t have it. I text my partner, telling him not to leave without a copy of the sheet. But I never hear back. I’m worried, though there’s nothing I can do. I figure I’ll hear back in the morning.

By 7 a.m., still nothing. I decide to cover myself by e-mailing my association.

“You need to submit the report,” is the response.

“I don’t have the sheet.”

“You can’t leave the rink without the information.”

“The league supervisor said he would e-mail me the sheet. He didn’t. Not my problem.”

“You should have gotten the information before leaving.”

“Look, I don’t write a report without the sheet. The USA Hockey incident form requires comprehensive information. I need more than just the player’s name.”

The association wasn’t budging, and I’m getting steamed. The game ended 12 hours ago and who needs this aggravation? Certainly not an “independent contractor.” But lawyers know not to write a report without being in possession of the game sheet. And it’s the league’s responsibility to tender a game sheet to a referee upon request, especially when there’s a major or game assessed.

9:30 a.m. What to do? No sheet. No response from the other referee. Nothing from the league supervisor. Board member upset that there’s no report in. It’s insane. This is how employees are treated, not “independent contractors.” Got that, all you associations requiring veteran officials to sign independent contractor forms?

I decide to go to the rink’s website, fishing for the league supervisor’s contact information. I find it, and shoot an e-mail to the guy. “Never received the sheet. Please forward at once.”

Now it’s 3 p.m. Suddenly an e-mail comes in from the league supervisor. “Sorry, here’s the sheet.” I quickly access the USA Hockey officials page, find the incident form and complete everything. And for those of you not familiar with the form, you must fill out all of the information. That includes teams, players’ names, officials’ names, league, level, etc. You can’t complete it without having the game sheet. What’s more, the incident form will not let you submit it to USA Hockey if there is any line or box left unfilled. That’s why you need the game sheet.

Think I’m overly-sensitive about the sheet? Then check out this statement issued last week from a referee-in-chief to all registered officials in his respective district:

The score sheet is the ONLY record made of the game and the ONLY record the (local body) will utilize if a major penalty, game misconduct or match penalty is assessed. REMEMBER, the score sheet is the official statement of all infractions assessed during a game and it is used as the basis for (our governing body) to determine suspension time for any affected players.

So back to my scenario. Finally, at 3:30, the form was submitted. I e-mailed a copy to our association. I confirmed that my partner received an e-copy. And there you go. Done. Finished. I didn’t even call the penalty, but spent the next day scrambling to complete the paperwork.

And I never received a report from the other ref.

Lesson learned. No veteran official should ever have to beg for the game sheet. That’s not our job. No sheet. No report. Simple. Take it up with the league if there’s an issue.

So there’s the glamour. The celebrity. Yup, the privilege of a veteran Level 3.

See, it’s good to be an “independent contractor.”


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Officially Speaking is originally published at
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Reprinted with permission.