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The Pre-Game Checklist for Officials

By Dave Wedlake, Chair, Referees, 11/20/19, 11:00AM EST


There's more that goes into preparation than just the equipment

Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa Photography

Helmet? Check. Whistle? Check. Skates? Check. Sweater? Check. Think you’re ready to officiate a game? There’s more that goes into it than just the equipment.

Just like the players are a unit, the officials are the third team on the ice, a group that has to work together to perform at their best. That means the same effort in preparation needs to be put forward. This list aims to give officials an idea of what their responsibilities and actions should be before, during and after a game to ensure that the job is well done.


Officials should arrive at the rink at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled game. This gives them enough time to get dressed, stretch, and check the official game report prior to the start of the game without being rushed. It is the officials’ job to ensure that Captains and Alternate Captains are indicated on the game report and that the game sheet complies with Hockey Canada rules 1.9 (c) and 2.2 (a).


Prior to going on the ice, officials should have a short discussion with the rest of their officiating team regarding their responsibilities in the game. This is like a coach’s pre-game chat to their players. All officials should be on the ice two to three minutes before the players to start the game and to start each period, and appear together while being lead onto the ice by the referee.

Have a warm-up skate and do so in a confident manner. Check the ice and netting for any debris or ridges. Count the number of players on each team prior to the start of the game. The total number of players on the ice or bench should be the same or less than indicated on the official game report. Before the puck drops, ensure that all off-ice officials are in position and ready to start the game such as the timekeeper.

During the Game

Do not lean on the boards or skate or stand around with your hands in your pockets. You should be ready to blow the whistle at any moment. Stay engaged and focus on what your responsibilities are (this relates to the pre-game chat with your officiating team). If a member of the coaching staff wants to have a respectful conversation with the officials you should be open to it.

After the Buzzer

Officials shall remain on the ice until all players have left the ice after each period or game. When the game is over, check and print your name on the official game report and return it to the official scorer. If approached by a coach or parent after the game you do not need to answer their questions.

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