It is the end of the season in May, 2004. It’s not on my schedule but I get a last minute call to referee the final championship games for A and B division Men’s league.
The A final game is moving along well, It’s a tie game with just a few minutes left in the third period. There have been no problems, a good clean game so far. I am the back man skating up the ice and my partner is heading into the end zone.
As I pass the benches two players jump over the boards and before they get into the play they start yelling and pushing each other. As I get to them, they drop their gloves and start swinging. I yell toward the benches “get these guys off the ice” but it falls on deaf ears. At this point in a championship final the last thing I want to do is call a penalty, but they are not giving me much of a choice. I stop the play and put them both in the penalty box… the same box… they are on the same team!
I close the penalty box door, and as I skate away they really get into it. They are fighting over ice time and hogging the puck. Now their team is shorthanded, down by two players. In less than a minute the other team scores and I go to call it in. When I get to the penalty box, both of the players look like they have been in a war and they are hanging their heads, breathing hard and I think I should call an ambulance.
I tell them “Ok one of you guys gets to come out” before I can say anything else, the player closest to the gate punches the other player in the face and knocks him down. After doing so, he picks up his stick and gloves and says “That would be me.” Who was I to argue?
This is a story I have told many times and every referee I have ever told gets a chuckle out of it. They usually have a story or two to tell me and I realize this is one of the best parts about being an official. I get to share some of the experiences I have had with the guys I work with and visa versa.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to be a player, coach, trainer and parent. I have seen the game from all sides and perspectives.
The referee’s job is not always an easy one, people love to hate them! When you get to know them they are actually everyday people just like you and me.