In any sport it’s easy to criticise the officials and referee’s in the middle. So what is it like to don the stripes, grab a whistle and take charge of a game? I set about finding out.
It’s great to able to write about the sport you love and be involved as a volunteer on game day, helping on the local media team but I thought it would be a good move to get out on the ice and officiate.
My journey started with completing the Ice Hockey New South Wales (IHNSW) Referee’s Course.
After watching many games of hockey and playing a season of Open B-Grade, I was up on the rules yet probably didn’t realise the complexity of some of the rules.
Passing a course is one thing but actually stepping out onto the ice is another thing.
The moment the first puck was dropped from my own hand, the game was a blur, not only did I need to think about where I was positioned on the ice, I had to be looking for offside players, icings and penalties like hooking and slashing.
As the game progress and the sweat started dripping off the brow, it was evident that this was no walk in the park.
The lactic acid kicked in, the legs were shaking and unlike a game, there was no chance to hit the bench for a rest.
Pushing on the game slowed down enough for me to catch up and settle into the role.
I learnt that being an ice hockey referee is not easy with many things going on at once.
I gained a new respect for the zebra’s in the middle, the work rate and how fast the action is around you.
Did I miss a few calls? Yes!
Did I enjoy it? Yes
Will I continue to be a zebra? You bet.