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High School Ice Hockey:
A Few Thoughts About Discipline, Fighting And The Officials

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

By Mike Costantino
SJSports Staff Writer

As most hockey fans know the Clearview/Township game a few weeks ago deteriorated into a "pier 6 brawl", something that has been happening too frequently throughout the league. Is fighting a part of hockey? Not at this level. These are kids, not professionals. Players are bigger and faster now than twenty years ago. This is true, but what seems to be lacking in certain instances is discipline. As parents we can teach our kids the difference between right and wrong, but we can't make choices for them. We entrust our kids to the coaches and rely on them not only to educate them on the game of hockey, but also how to conduct themselves as young men on the ice.

When the article was written about that game, criticizism toward the officials was pointed out for taking control of the game early. The focus should have been on the kids not on the referees. What some people failed to realize is that the comments were directed specifically at that particular game on that Friday night. There was no question that the fighting penalties are out of control and the league has stepped up and made some very severe rule changes to address the issue.

As a former football official for nine years, I found that communicating with both the kids and coaches made the game smoother and less confrontational. Hockey is a faster game and during the regular season only two officials are used and some penalties are missed. The rules state that only the captain can raise a question to the officials. Maybe using three officials in all varsity games during the regular season is something to consider. Although costly, it certainly would help the situation.

One final comment. This is our fourth season covering high school hockey. The writers have always been able to watch the game from the scorekeeping area, next to the penalty box, with no apparent conflict or bias. Prior to the face-off of last week's Clearview-Eastern game at Skate Zone, that night's referee skated over and informed this writer had to leave the scorer's area. The official's request was carried out and the game was covered from the side on the boards. Sadly, being so remote from the action, statistics of the game lacked the specifics that are gained from the position in the scorekeepers box. This coverage offered by South Jersey Sports Online is intended first and foremost for the players; the kids that put in the long hours of practice and tirelessly compete for the love of sports. This is for and about the kids.

©2001 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.