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ZEBRA SCHOOL

Tuesday, 08.19.2008 / 5:06 PM / Features
By Thomas LaRocca  - LAKings.com Staff Writer
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ZEBRA SCHOOL
Sixty referees were at Toyota Sports Center on Aug. 8-10, refining their skills at Calironia Referee School.
Sometimes you love them and sometimes you hate them.

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At the best of times, you barely notice they are there.

And the worst, well, we all know the worst.

But the bottom line is they work hard to be the best at what they do.

Last weekend at Toyota Sports Center, sixty referees from all over North America converged in El Segundo for the 20th annual California Referees School Camp Aug. 8-10.

“It is a long process,” said Michel Voyer, who runs the school and has sent over 200 graduates on to officiating careers in minor and professional hockey. “They are just like the players, they have to progress through the minors and move up.

“There are only so many openings in the National Hockey League. It is a waiting process, people don’t retire every year.”

One graduate who did make it to the NHL is linesman Lyle Seitz, who reached the NHL in 1992-93, working his first NHL game, ironically, with the Los Angeles Kings facing the Calgary Flames on Oct. 7, 1992.

Some of Seitz’ colleagues in current NHL referees Kelly Sutherland, Shane Heyer, Mike Leggo and NHL linesman Lonnie Cameron were on the California Referee School staff teaching the clinic.

The class offered a full 16 hours of on-ice instruction focusing on positioning, signals, skating drills, conducting face-offs, and game situation participation.

Classroom and video instruction also included a review of USA Hockey, NHL & NCAA rules as well as studying the psychology of the game. There were also question & answer sessions to encourage interaction with the instructors.

But in addition to learning, the camp’s aim was also evaluation.

The referees were put through rigorous fitness tests at the three-day camp.

The group was put through tests on their knowledge of hockey rules as well as a rigorous fitness tests as the camp served as an opportunity for leagues to scout future referees.

NHL Officiating Manager Dave Baker, East Coast Hockey League Assistant Director of Officiating Joe Ernst, Supervisor of Officiating for CSHL (Jr.B), CSCHL-a USA Hockey Division I College Club Dan Monacelli, Supervisor of Canadian Hockey League Officials Wayne Bonney and USA Hockey Officiating Development Coordinator Scott Brand were all in attendance taking notes and evaluating each of the referees.

"The CRS School is a great way for officials to showcase their talents while sharpening their skills,” said Brand. “This school has provided us the chance to find some very talented officials in some non-traditional hockey areas.”

California definitely fit the mold as far as non-traditional areas are concerned. But with the growth of hockey in California over the last 20 years, improvement in skill of the referees in the area became necessary as well.

“The hockey was getting better and better here so the refereeing needed to improve,” Voyer said. “We have to keep up with the players. We owe that to the players, to the family, to the teams. We have to be on top of our game and that is why we have a school like this.

“That is why I have a job.”

For more information on the California Referee School, visit: carefschool.com.