By Mark Lichtenfeld. Originally published at


Due to travel requirements and a lengthy tournament weekend, this OS is going to be short. Still, what you are about to read will easily resonate with veteran Level 3s around the country.

OS just completed a 12-game tournament weekend, including games from Squirt to high school. A very enjoyable tournament – except for one game, which was naturally a “higher level” contest.

What happened? How about a case of the usual belligerent coach. The kind of guy that tries to put on a show for the parents. The coach who just happens to be in charge of the host team for the tournament. You know how that works. The host team cannot lose – especially in its first game of the weekend. And it’s the ref’s fault if they do lose, which guarantees a grandstanding spectacle in front of the tournament director.

Let’s get one thing clear: When you get a veteran like the OS columnist as the referee in a three-official game, you better make sure not to disrespect him. Which means do not try to call the referee over to the bench before the faceoff every time you have a question about a subjective decision. And when the veteran zebra explains at intermission that a higher-level team needs to comply with rules and send its captain to the ref for a question of interpretation, do not continue to bellyache. Those are the rules. It’s not a Mite game, get it?

And once you, Mr. Coach, stand on the bench and scream “center-ice faceoff” for an erroneous icing stoppage, you have easily exposed yourself for the ignoramus that you are. You have lost credibility. Parents, listen up. Do you want your coach arguing about the rules with a 27-year veteran official? Because if you do, just make sure your coach knows the book. The basic rules. Like the erroneous icing rule.

Or during that same game, the “high-stick above the crossbar rule?” I mean, just because your high school coach wishes he was behind the bench for an NCAA team does not necessarily mean that a USA Hockey game suddenly utilizes NCAA rules. It’s the shoulder, genius.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Easy to pound on the coach in this column. But how was your performance, Mr. OS? Well, in an absolute stroke of good fortune, a local evaluator was at the game and evaluated all three of us! His evaluation was overwhelmingly positive, including a specific determination that the non-call of the tournament director knew it, too.

Suddenly, I love evaluators. Well, sometimes anyway.

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Reprinted with permission.