There may some months before there’s any ice hockey action, but Edinburgh-based Elite League referee Pavel Halas believes there should be more officials brought in across the UK.
Referees and linesmen all over the country are regularly used for their respective areas all over the country and can officiate two games per weekend so the dearth of new blood coming through is a concern for the experienced officials.
Czech Republic-born Halas, who became an official in 2010 and later a game referee in 2016, is hopeful a newer breed can not only come in and work the top flight matches, but stay for a sustained period of time.
“We definitely need more referees across the UK going forward,” Halas told Glasgow Clan’s Clan Chat show. “There’s not as many here and when you compare it to ten years, getting into the Elite League was very difficult because there was a lot of competition.
“At one point, we had seven linesman from Scotland with years of experience behind them and it was hard to get into,” Halas said. “Nowadays, you can have six months in the SNL and before then, they might only half a year working with kids.
“That’s not a criticism of the system, but it’s a fact of where we are. Asking guys to step up after only a year, it’s making their job difficult and that of the referee working with them, especially if they’re having a bad night and your linesmen would need to step up and help out.
“It’s important to get more officials in Scotland because there are a couple in their 50’s, coming to the end of their career. You have some young guys at the start of that path and no one in the middle so it’s important the officials come in and we take care of them.”
One feature of a regular ice hockey season is the involvement of DOPS, the Elite League’s disciplinary body who look at contentious incidents in games and dish out bans in accordance with the rules.
Since it began in 2014, it has caused controversy among fans for suspensions they’ve handed down, but it has become a necessary tool to make the game safer for players, with the referees the front line in the process.
Despite ongoing criticism, Halas insists the DOPS system has improved under the stewardship of former officials Lyle Seitz and Greg Kimmerly, but admits it can be frustrating if something is picked up that he and the rest of his officiating team haven’t.
“I’ve found DOPS has improved since Lyle and Greg have got involved and they’re more clearer in how they deal with certain incidents and giving feedback to us as referees on it,” Halas added.
“Their explanations are very detailed, but the main thing is, for us as referees, is that we give the penalty on the ice at the time. It’s a game of angles and there are instances where we may not see things clearly or miss something, but DOPS picks it up.
“If we’ve seen it between us, then we’ll make the decision there and then. We don’t have replays to work from other than goal line technology, but DOPS can go through it frame by frame, speak to us about what we saw and make a judgement with the evidence they’ve gathered.
“If we miss a major penalty in a game that isn’t called or we think, with the naked eye, it’s a clean hit, but DOPS sees something and actions it accordingly, we can be upset with each other.”