Justin Greene Recounts Weekend As USHL Official
April 19, 2007
With my playing career having ended, I now have time to focus on my officiating career. While I have been working all season long, I now have the opportunity to pursue this career a little more intensely. Last weekend, I worked a few games in the United States Hockey League, which is a Tier 1 junior league. I flew to Columbus, Ohio on April 12 and worked the Ohio-Chicago game at Nationwide Arena the next day. Nationwide Arena is the home rink for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
This game was played in the Blue Jackets' practice rink because of an arena football game in the building. The referee for the game was Tim Mayer, who was working his 125th and 126th games of the season. Tim was great to work with and had some great experience under his belt. I traveled and stayed with him all weekend. My linesman partner was Andrew Bethmann who is only 20 years old. Andrew is scheduled to work the Southern Professional Hockey League finals, so he's very accomplished in his own right.
The rink was packed. People filled the stands and were standing all along the boards. It was a great atmosphere to work a game with the crowd very into the game the whole time. The game was uneventful in that nothing out of the ordinary happened. The coach of the Ohio team was Peter Harrold's brother Josh, so there was a nice BC connection.
There are a few major differences between this league and college hockey. The USHL has touch icing; fighting is allowed; and the play is a little quicker. It is much more like the pros than college hockey as far as the rules go.
After the game, the three of us spent the night in Columbus and then got up in the morning and made the three-hour ride to Indianapolis. The rink in Indianapolis was great because there was a lot of history to it. Wayne Gretzky skated there when he played in the World Hockey Association. The game was a fast-paced game - up and down. I finally got to witness my first fight with seven minutes left in the third period. Tim Mayer noticed the two players nodding to each other off the face off. He got Andrew's attention to drop the puck and as soon as he did the two players dropped their gloves, unbuckled their helmets and circled each other. The crowd went crazy. When the fight ended, Andrew and I got in the middle and took the two fighters to the box. The same thing happened at the next face-off. The funny thing about fighting is that the people in the stands do not understand that fighting really settles a game down. When there is a game with a lot of tension, a good fight can settle both teams down and the game can continue.
After this second game, Andrew had to take a four-hour car ride home. Tim and I went and got some dinner. We discussed the weekend ... and next season.
Before going to bed, I set the alarm for 5 a.m. I had to catch my flight home to attend the Pike's Peak Club Hockey Banquet.