AFTER THE WHISTLE SERIES presented by Z Apparel Co.

 

 

Welcome to the AFTER THE WHISTLE Series presented by Z Apparel Co. 

 

Z Apparel Co. is a hockey apparel clothing company designed for hockey officials by hockey officials. After seeing numerous hockey apparel lines launch in the past few years catering specifically to hockey players, Z Hockey was created. Finally, something hockey officials worldwide can call their own!!! Visit their website at: www.myzhockey.com

 

 FIRST PERIOD 

ZHockey:Where are you from?  What made you decide to get involved in officiating?

ZR: I was born, grew up, and still reside in the Pittsburgh, PA area. I was drawn to being an official ever since I was a kid.  Even when I was younger watching hockey on television, I would watch the officials and what they were doing just as much as I would watch the players.  I remember being excited the year that I turned 12 and would be able to register as an official with USA Hockey. I took time away from officiating in high school and college, but a car accident going into my sophomore year ended my playing days and got me back into officiating.

 

ZHockey:Did you ever play hockey growing up? At what level?

ZR:  Yes.  I played Tier I amateur hockey through the midget level growing up.  I played a season with the Cleveland Barons, formerly of the North American Hockey League.  I knew growing up that with my limited skill set, success in life would not come from playing hockey. So after a year of playing junior, I finished my playing career while attending West Virginia University.

 

ZHockey: I'm sure you have worked with several great officials over the years. Does any one person in particular stand out?

ZR:I certainly have.  I couldn’t narrow it down to just one individual official.  I would have to say that working with the officials that have been hired to NHL contracts is certainly very memorable.  Especially when you are able to work through the minor leagues and watch good things happen to your fellow officials and good friends.  Over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to skate with NHL contracted officials TJ Luxmore, Tom Chmielewski, Graham Skilliter, Matt MacPherson, Darcy Burchell, Jean Herbert, Francis Charron, Trevor Hanson, Mark Lemelin, Jon McIssac, Kendrick Nicholson, Garrett Rank, and many others.

 

 

 SECOND PERIOD 

ZHockey:Approximately how many games do you work a year between the AHL and ECHL? What is your travel like?

ZR: Between the two leagues, I work around 50 games per season. I also officiate NCAA hockey in the Big Ten, which adds even more travel per season.  The travel is sometimes tough, especially through the rural areas in the winter months. But, after seven years on the road, you simply accept it as part of the job of being a minor league hockey official.  Fortunately, with most of the cities I travel to for all leagues are only a few hours’ drive away, I am often able to make it back at the end of the weekend, minimizing the time away from my family. 

 

ZHockey:What was your most memorable game you were ever a part of? Describe the feeling.

ZR: There a quite a few games I have worked through the years that are certainly memorable.  But, the single most memorable game to me was my first ever ECHL game. I can remember almost everything, not only about that game, but that entire day.  It was a pre-season game between Wheeling and Johnstown. I was 23 years old and it was essentially a tryout for me.  Joe Ernst, then working for the ECHL’s Officiating Department, was there to evaluate and determine whether or not I would be hired.  I remember locking my then fiancé, now wife, in the car when we got to the War Memorial in Johnstown, PA. I was not even given an ECHL jersey for this game, just a league crest pinned to my jersey. I can honestly say have never been as nervous on the ice as I was that day.  Luckily, all went well during the game and I was hired by the ECHL that evening.

 

ZHockey:What advice can you offer aspiring officials that are thinking about pursuing officiating in either the ECHL, AHL, or US Development program?

ZR:  There are two things I always tell any official that is striving to advance, to any level.  First, work hard every second of every game.  You never know who may be watching you work that particular game.  Hard work and your best effort will take you far in this profession. Second, only be concerned with your path to your personal officiating goals. I encourage officials to not be concerned, or worry themselves, with what games or leagues other officials are working, or with what other officials may be doing with their respective careers. This will only cause an official unnecessary distraction.  Keep focused on your personal goals and your personal path.  There is no standard route you must follow to obtaining your goal.  Couple this attitude with hard work and determination both on and off the ice, and success will often follow.

 

 

 THIRD PERIOD 

ZHockey:You are the Director of the Pittsburgh Elite Officiating Camps, working alongside your long-time friend and fellow official Ray King. What can an aspiring official expect when taking part in one of your camps?

ZR: I think having attended multiple training camps for many leagues, my staff and I were able to select the most enjoyable aspects from each of those camps and bring them together to become a fun, educational and memorable weekend for all participants.  Some of the PEOC camp highlights include review of the multiple rulebooks, a dedicated officials locker room, complimentary PEOC apparel, correspondence review  from multiple professional hockey leagues, on-ice training sessions, off-ice training sessions, individual video review of skating drills, classroom sessions focusing on positioning, game management, penalty standard, etc., video performance review immediately following each game, a camp dinner provided by PEOC, and a one-on-one Q&A session with experienced staff and camp guests. For more information, please visit our website at www.PEOCamps.com

 

ZHockey:You have several camps throughout the spring/summer and have been running this for many years now. How do you keep drawing new officials from all over the country?

ZR: I think the success of the camps can be based a number of factors.  The biggest, and most important, is the positive word of mouth participants have taken back to their hometowns.  In 2014, PEOC had officials participate from 10 different states and 8 respective USA Hockey Districts.  Other factors include social media, the advancement of prior camp participants, and the agreements PEOC has in place with entities such as USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program and the Hockey Referee Assigning Organization, and the exposure PEOC provides aspiring officials to high level officiating administrators.

 

ZHockey:You have had several guest speakers and distinguished camp hosts throughout the years. Who will be at this year's camps?

ZR: In 2015, the PEOC will again expand its Instruction Staff and Camp Guest rosters. This season’s staff will include:

  • Current ECHL Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Ernst,
  • Current IIHF, OHL & AHL Referee Keith Kaval,
  • Current ECHL & AHL Referee Ryan Murphy,
  • Current ECHL & OHL Referee Jason Faist,
  • Current AHL, IIHF & NCAA Linesman Tommy George,
  • Current Mid-Am District Referee-in-Chief Jim Weaver,
  • Current USA Hockey Coordinator of Officiating Development B.J. Ringrose, 
  • Current ECHL and USA Hockey Supervisor Dave Madsen,
  • Current ECHL, AHL, USHL & NCAA Supervisor Jim Doyle,
  • Current HRAO (NCAA Division III) Director Jeff Fulton,
  • Current HRAO (NCAA Division III) Supervisor Ron Scales,
  • Current Big Ten, ECHL & AHL Linesmen Ray King,
  • Current Big Ten, ECHL & AHL Linesmen Zach Roberts.
  • Numerous representatives from USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program

 

ZHockey:What is your favorite part of each camp? Why?

ZR: I believe my favorite aspect of each camp is seeing the award winner’s reaction to hearing their names called and receiving their awards at the end of each camp.  All the camp awards are voted on by the participants and are a reflection of how your officiating peers view you both throughout the camp weekend. It is enjoyable and refreshing to see the participants be proud of their hard work and accomplishments after a challenging weekend, both on and off the ice.

 

 OVERTIME 

ZHockey:Outside of hockey, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time / off season?

ZR: Most of my time that is spent off the ice is in my office.  My family owns a business specializing in work injury management, where I have worked for many years.  I also enjoy playing golf and baseball in the summer.  Most of all, I enjoy being able to spend my time away from the rink with my wife, Jaime, my 4-year-old son, Connor, and my 1-year-old daughter, Riley. Officiating and the travel demand it brings keeps me away from home a great deal during the hockey season, so I truly cherish and maximize the time I get to spend with my family during the off-season.

 

ZHockey:If you could have officiated one player from the past, who would it be and why?

ZR: I would have to say Steve Yzerman.  He was the player I looked up to most growing up as a player and I have always viewed him as a true professional. I would have greatly enjoyed a chance to see him at ice-level, witnessing how he communicated with both his teammates and the opposition, see first-hand his leadership qualities, observe the respect other players game him on the ice, and to simply watch him play hockey.

 

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