As players and supporters for all teams are preparing for the competitive action to fully resume this autumn following the COVID pause, there is another group also excited to get back to the ice – our on-ice officials.
The Ice Hockey UK Referee Section held their annual conference in Nottingham in mid August with almost 100 officials from Level 1 (newly qualified) to Level 7 (Elite League) spending two days with their colleagues in seminars and meetings featuring the new IIHF rule book. Officials also underwent off-ice fitness testing as well as the on-ice skating tests.
IHUK referees cover all sanctioned games at every level in the UK and although some were able to work the streaming series games in Elite League and NIHL over this spring, most – in line with the sport as a whole – have had no action since March 2020.
Chair of the IHUK Referee Section, Simon Kirkham, said: “Seeing so many officials from all corners of the UK take time and effort to attend the camp and participate at all levels after such a traumatic 2020/21 made the camp a massive success.
“The feedback we have received from officials has been very positive with many stating it felt good to be back doing what we love to do!
“As far as the management team goes we could not ask for a better response and are looking forward to the upcoming season and working to see continued improvement in officiating in the UK.”
Kirkham also announced that 35 IHUK officials have received IIHF licences for the coming season, and have begun working in Champions Hockey League games while waiting for IIHF tournament allocations to be made.
“As an association, the UK always punches above its weight in terms of IIHF representation,” added Kirkham. “Congratulations to those licensed and we look forward the tournament allocations very soon.”
The management team are also finalising plans for their new season Level 1 courses to attract more on-ice officials.
There are three teams on the ice for every game, and #TeamStripes are just as excited as the rest of the hockey community to get the game back!
To have a peek behind the scenes at the Conference, view the video below.