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Ask The Ref.
2010-2011 Season

Page Last Modified:


What is "Ask the Ref"? Itís an area for players to ask questions, voice concerns or share an opinion. Itís (hopefully) going to be an informative and entertaining area where players and coaches can get a better insight into a refereeís point of view. And as a special bonus, if you coach youth hockey, it may even help you avoid problems in those games.

My rules for questions: I wonít force any on you, but I think in an effort to be reasonable you should include your name and refrain from profanity and insults towards other players or the refs. If you need to share a nasty opinion, or use insults or profanity towards someone, then I think you should include your name, address, phone number and where you park your car. Basically try to use non-specific titles; "in a game the other day the refÖ", or "the other day a playerÖ"

Q: If a player, lets say #4 makes an outlet pass for a 2 on 1 and #4's pass goes to #8 and then #8 passes it to #10 and then #10 passes it back to #8 who scores a goal on his shot what should the scoring play read like?

our unruly troublemaking pain in the ass, 
George J. Bell  (

A: The The order for awarding goals goes:  Scorer, person who passed it to the scorer, and the person who passed it to the person who passed it to the scorer.  That gives you your goal and two assists.  If the scorer gets the puck from the opposing team, it would be an unassisted goal.  Also, you can't receive two points on a goal, so if the scorer passed it to # 5, who passed it back to the scorer who "He shoots, he scores!!!!", the scorer gets credit for the goal and #5 would get an assist.  The scorer can't score and get an assist on the same play.  Also, if #5 passes it to a teammate who then skates the length of the ice and through whole other team, and so on, it would probably be an unassisted goal.  So in your example it would be:  Goal scored by # 8, assisted by # 10.

Q: Building on the situation introduced by Mr. "FLASH" Maher in the second question- If the puck does in fact, split in 2, and 1/2 goes into the net and the other 1/2 goes in front of the net, and another player puts that 1/2 into the net before the ref blows the whistle, WHO GETS CREDIT FOR THE GOAL??

Steve G

A: The play is dead the instant the puck breaks, whistle or not.  Therefore no goal may be scored.



A: Dear Favorite Player,
A good question.  Now if you would kindly sit down and shut up I'll try to explain it for you:-)   In the cold harsh reality of hockey, refs only need to explain the following things: A disputed goal, a problem with the clock, and if there was an injury, what happened.  These are the standards for all the games we get paid for, not just yours.  This is when I try to remind people that a ref has to manage a game, not baby-sit.  If we take the time to answer every question players will start complaining that we're wasting time.  I'm a little curious what type of question one could ask about a penalty.  If a ref calls a trip, he saw a trip.  If he calls a hook, he was a hook.  It's pretty simple.  Now I think you mean asking a ref how he called a penalty; really a rhetorical question.  Players need to remember that refs are trying to get everyone the most game time possible, and judgment calls questioned during the game serve no good purpose.  If you really are at a loss for why something was called, ask after the game.  We know you pay us, not that any of us are making a living doing this, but remember you don't pay us to take abuse.  It's a lot like cops (like I always say), you can shake your head if you disagree, and later when things are over you can civilly talk about things, but if you get stopped and question the hell out of the cop, he'll probably write you for everything he can.  Reefing, like a lot of other things, is not a perfect science.  It's not the black and white in the book, it's common sense application of the rules.  And this necessitates an understanding between players and refs.  I know you truly think your questions are harmless, but if you ask a question, then the next guy will, too and the next guy and so on.  The next thing you know, the buzzer goes.  So, if you can, save it for after the game.  I'm sure most guys would talk to you then.  And one more thought; you can lose your "bitch privileged" by abusing it.  Listen to your benches and players, and other teams benches and players, and if it's constant nag, nag, nag... nobody in their right mind will want to talk to you.  And lastly, if you're the type of player that's always getting penalties, you need to change your ways, not the ref's.  As always when this type of question comes up, it's very difficult to answer in this type of media, so next time you see me at the rink if you'd like further information... 

No, seriously, ask me.

Q: Bill, does not seem you get a lot of questions here.  How about this: Player takes a slap shot, hits the goal post, and the puck splits in half.  Half the puck enters the net and other half bounces out front.  I assume this is not a goal, because entire puck does not cross the goal line.  But, what if, the half that bounces out as a rebound is shot into the net before the whistle blows?  Goal or no goal?

Terry Mahar (over 40)

A: Terry,
I don't know.  I'm forwarding the question on to USA Hockey for their interpretation.  My guess would be no goal.  Here's why:  At any time if the puck were to split in half, play would have to be stopped.  One important point most players don't realize is that play is stopped/dead/over when the ref decides it is over, NOT when he blows the whistle.  So, if the goalie covers the puck and the ref goes to blow his whistle, he's deemed the play stopped.  If the puck comes loose and goes in, it's not a goal.  I know you've seen cases of this; the ref looses sight of the puck and blows the whistle, the play is over when the ref decides to blow his whistle.  Whatever happens in the second or two or three that it takes to blow the whistle, from when he decided to doesn't count, except for a penalty.

Q: Dear Mr. Ref,
Last season I was "run", or as a forward would say accidentally on purpose mowed over at least 5 times, once causing a serious injury to my neck, but never once was a penalty called. Another time a forward eh hem, fell into me and was not pushed by my defenseman ( I have it on tape) while the puck was being shot. The net was off it's pegs when the puck went in, the ref counted the goal and gave no penalty. I want to know what if anything constitutes roughing the goalie or interference? 

A: Come on, how in the world can you hurt a goalie with all that stuff on? I'm having a hard time believing this isn't just a case of "forward envy".  I mean you have to stand in the goal all that time, and everybody expects you to stop everything that comes near you.  That's your job.  You have no choice but to stop the puck; EVERY time.  But forwards, they only have to try to score to look good.  I mean look at Sergei, he doesn't score every time he gets the puck and he still gets Anna K.  But, Chris Osgood, Patrick Wah, Eddie Belfour, who are they with?  See my point? 

Anyway, you are correct.  Unnecessary contact with the goalie is a no-no.  See rules 606b and 621c.  But please note the comments after 606b.  As I've mentioned before, not everything gets called, we all know that.  I will make a note of mentioning it to the refs, and if it happens again just ask the ref (which I'm sure you did) to watch.  For the goal; if the net comes off the pegs, but remains on the plane it was originally set on, close to the center of the crease,I would consider that a good goal.  Much like when the net gets bumped and you reset it during play.  Have a good season, and I hope this helps.

Q: Dear Mr. Ref,
Do you think that it is in the game's best interest for officials to purposely goad and bait players into verbal exchanges that often lead to hostilities between the two?  This seems to happen quite frequently with several of the officials who choose to "chime in" on a conversation between teammates.  Can we do anything about this?


A: Dear Large-mouthed-bass,
And any other species that might find this interesting:

I agree 100% that goading and baiting should be frowned upon, and I have stated this many times to both the refs and players.  Player to player, as you may know, is an Unsportsmanlike penalty.  Player to ref is a Misconduct or Game Misconduct.  Ref to player should never happen.  

Goading and/or baiting can be loosely described as:  a negative or demeaning comment offered specifically to elicit a response.  If the response is answered with a penalty, this is clearly wrong and should not be tolerated.  If this occurs, please let me know immediately!!!

Now let's talk about practical applications.  As I mentioned above, if the player starts it the ref has two choices, a penalty or answer it. The penalty speaks for itself.  the answer can go two ways, a light-hearted sluff off, or an equally venomous response.  Now the equally venomous response can go two ways, it can be general, or personal.  (Personal is bad and whoever goes there first is in trouble.  Personal usually includes the word "you" or "your").  The light-hearted sluff off can also go two ways, it can disarm the whole thing, or make it worse.  (It seems odd talking about hockey players and going two ways, but you never know with some of these guys).  {DISCLAIMER for the Politically correct:  Sorry!}

Think Nuclear deterrent.  The Game Misconduct is the referee's nuclear arsenal.  As long as things are being said evenly and impersonally things are fine.  Little DMZ skirmishes happen from time to time.  But they are small, short lived events.  However, cross the line and the world's toast.  And the ref should never cross the line first.

Next point:  Most players and refs here (and most places) see each other all the time, and most of them get along OK.  Now getting along with each other isn't a necessity, but it certainly makes it more enjoyable for everyone.  Personally I try to get along with everyone, and I recommend that attitude to all participants, players and refs.  However, utopia this ain't.  So if I don't have a friendly relationship with a player, I will usually look for an opening to say something which may open a door to building a better (or any) line of rapport.  So naturally this includes perhaps adding a friendly comment or attempting a humorous comment while overhearing something.  If this thought bothers you, or you don't care to get along with the other people here, refs and opposing players, maybe the problem is you're not allowing yourself the opportunity of enjoying the WHOLE game, maybe you're just playing your game.

I hope this helps shed some light on this situation.  If not, please ask me personally when we would have time to talk.  Before or after a game for example.

And again, if anyone feels a ref is goading or baiting them, please let me know asap, and I will need specifics.


Q: In a five on three (or 4 on 3, or 3 on 3, or 5 on 5, or 4 on 4 (I think that covers everything) situation if a fight breaks out and a second player from the team with three skaters joins in, what is the appropriate series of penalties so that justice is served?

A: It could be a lot more interesting than one would think. A lot depends on how the refs choose to handle the situation. Theoretically everyone on the ice could get an all expenses paid visit to the local penalty box. Hereís, simply, how that would work:

Players are required to follow the directions of the ref. I know it seems like players only think theyíre "supposed to", but they really are required to follow his instructions. If the ref orders the players to the bench, and they donít go there, any offending player (and Iím not referring to olfactorally offensive which is a whole separate issue) could receive a penalty; same for the goalie if he leaves his crease during an altercation. So you could end up with a bunch of penalties. Normally this doesnít occur.

In the situation mentioned in the question, both initial participants would receive their appropriate penalties, and the additional (third man in) player gets ejected from the balance of that game. That is the minimum. He could receive more if the ref feels itís justified. No penalty time is assessed to his team.

And speaking of offending players, if you just canít bring yourself to wash those lucky socks (or whatevers), get some Wintergreen Rubbing Alcohol (at RiteAid) and some Hydrogen Peroxide and a mix them 50-50. Put it in a spray bottle and spray away. You can use it on anything. If you spray the inside of your skates and then wear white socks a little green may show up on the socks because of your foot perspiring.


Q: Hey, Ref, why didnít you call that!?

A: Iím sure you meant, "Excuse me, Mr. Referee, Sir, why didnít you call that?" This is the biggest question in hockey. Usually itís because we can only look in one direction at a time, but there can be other reasons. An experienced ref (and actually a professional) once told me "the rule book is a book of guidelines; every situation is unique". Common sense (which some of have better than others) lets us look at the whole situation, neutrally. What really happened? What caused it?, and What was the outcome? Many times itís a matter of perspective (where you are). There are basically four perspectives: The refs, the players, the benches and the stands; and where you physically are impacts what you see.


So, send in the questions and comments. An open line of communication creates understanding and respect. We may not always agree, but we can always respect each others opinions.

      Bill Williams


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