The On-ice officials in Ice Hockey

Rules are very important for sports; this holds especially true to Ice Hockey. In a very contact-heavy sports played by teams carrying sticks, wearing helmets and following rules would be the bare minimum for playing a game where action is present but safety is king.

In the heat of the moment, players may tend to forget about the rules, or may have their instincts awoken to just throw down or hit the impending danger (read: other player) away. This is why we have officials to ensure that the flow of the game is not only enjoyable, but safe.

There are officials who make sure that the game will be a friendly match, not a modern gladiatorial free for all. Of course, penalties are also in place just to give teeth to the officials’ reprimands. However, like most sports there is a list of rules and penalties, and there is still leeway for the officials. Discretion and experience are indeed for these officials.

First of all, we have the the ever reliable and wise referees. In Ice Hockey, you can spot the referees easily since they have orange or red armbands. He or she makes the decisions; to decide if points should be awarded or penalties given out.

Next, we have the linesmen. Two heads are better than one, especially if one official cannot see the whole barn (what we fans call the rink). While generally they cannot dish out penalties, they are sometimes allowed to do so. They are very important since they focus on areas after the Centre line or Blue Line, and stop any fist fights.

Lastly, we have the assistant referee. Basically, the junior or secondary referee.

Depending on the situation, you can get a three-official or four-official system, with the assistant referee present only if the four-official system is chosen.

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