The Ice Hockey UK Referee Section held their first in-season development meeting in Nottingham last weekend, with England-based officials from levels 3-6 in attendance.
An identical meeting will take place in Edinburgh on 16th December for officials based in Scotland.
IHUK referee chief Joy Johnston updated the officials on developments with the management of the section, as well as early-season trends.
Johnston and deputy referee chief Michael Evans also attended the Elite League board meeting to discuss how to move towards their desired four-man system from January without impacting the levels below the Elite League.
To support this process, Michael Hicks and Tom Darnell have joined IHUK Referee Section as Level 6 officiating managers working with the Elite League.
Darnell briefly addressed the meeting to outline his thoughts on developing Elite officials and said that officials with excellent skating, rules knowledge and hockey IQ would get the opportunity, even if they were not in the level directly below the EIHL.
He highlighted Liam Sewell’s progress in America where he has been skating in the AHL ahead of officials who have been waiting for many years to get the chance, saying: “Liam is probably the best skater we have and he looks and behaves like a referee.”
Moving forward, Level 5 (NIHL) officials are now being managed by Simon Kirkham, taking over from Bob Bramah.
Kirkham will provide an excellent link to the levels above and below to ensure the pathway for officials runs smoothly.
There have been almost 20 officials moved up a grade so far this season, including some to the Elite League.
The development path is there for officials to make their way in the sport using the support and guidance of the OMs, assessors and development coaches.
Officials then broke into their separate groups and went through more specific game issues at their levels, with sessions lead by the respective officiating managers.
Finally, in preparation for next summer’s National Referee Conference, officials recorded a short video tribute recognising the people who have helped them get to where they are as an official. This montage will be played throughout the conference next August.
There are still places available at Level 1 referee courses early next year should anyone be interested in joining #TeamStripes.
They are in Guildford on 13th and 14th January and Whitley Bay on 24th February. A further course in Scotland is also being planned.