There’s a shortage in hockey! It’s not in the locker room, nor is it in management; but it’s both on and off the ice. Everyone aspires to playing the game and after playing days are over many head to behind the bench or “upstairs.”
There’s another avenue to staying in the game.
“There’s a shortage of on and off ice officials,” said
Official Dina Allen. “I think its because of the many challenges of it
including working it into an already full playing schedule and having to deal
with coaches and parents acting inappropriately and berating officials.
“All of us can foster and grow officiating by being patient
and understanding of those willing to learn officiating and do the job.
“It is a necessary part of the game,” continued Allen.
A good time to begin the process is when you are young. The
problem is that there isn’t time when you are playing to take the time to learn
to officiate and then schedule in games to officiate.
However, learning to officiate will also enhance a players game.
Allen began her officiating career after college because it
was a good time for her. She had played the game but with beginning her study
in law knew she won’t have time to play. She also wanted to make a little extra
money. Her husband was an official and so she began her journey into the world
“Had I started younger I would have benefitted from it as a
player because I would have understood what the refs were seeing and how they
interpret the game. That would have given me an advantage,” she said.
Allen, a native of North Tonawanda, played local travel and
for the Nichols High School team before heading off to play hockey at
Princeton. She played on boys teams through tenth grade and then joined the
Syracuse Stars and played senior AAA for the Oakville Ice. At Princeton she led
the team in penalty minutes, so she knows a thing or two about hockey rules.
“My first officiating job was a cross ice mite game as a
linesman; it was fun,” she remembers.
She officiated at the ECAC D1 level, took USA Hockey regional
camps to get certified; took an elite camp for international certification and
traveled the world. Then last year she officiated at the highest level at the
2018 Olympics for the women’s hockey competitions.
“Start where you are comfortable, get experience and as you
feel more comfortable move up to the levels that are more competitive,” Allen
“The Assigners work with you to find games that you are
comfortable with,” she added.
Allen adds that you learn how to manage people and situations.
She has also learned about different life styles, cultures and has found
camaraderie with the officials as they travel together, which has developed
into lasting friendships.
“The biggest take away for younger kids playing is that you
learn the game from a completely different perspective,” she said. “It helps
you as a player to better understand the game.”
“I think it would be fun to see coaches go through the process
and see what they would do from a refs perspective,” she said. “It would be a
definite advantage because of the different perspective.”
“It’s a thick rule book!”
How do you start?
Begin by going to the USA Hockey website (www.usahockey.com)
click on Officials; then on Become Official and select Register Now. It will
take you through the registration process.
While the sessions for this Fall are already completed, check
back at the site for upcoming dates.
NYHOL will try and post the dates for each Section of NY as
they become available.
The following story on Dina Allen ran in NYHOL after she was
selected to work the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Vermont. In 2018 she worked
the Olympics in China. It will give you some insight into refereeing.
Dina Allen is a
full-time lawyer which mean she has to settle disputes on a regular basis. So
what does she do in her spare time? Why, she serves as a referee for ice
While local games are on her schedule
regularly, Allen will be one of the referees at the 2012 International Ice
Hockey Federation Women’s World’s in Burlington, Vermont in April.
The North Tonawanda resident began her
hockey career at age 4. She played on boy’s teams through tenth grade and then
joined up with the Syracuse Stars. She played senior AAA hockey for the
Oakville Ice of the NWHL, won a USA Hockey national championship with the 19U
Syracuse Stars and was invited to the USA Junior National Camp in 2001, 2002
and 2003. She has also played for
Brampton and Mississaugua of the NWHL.
The Princeton University graduate also
played for her alma mater. She played in 123 games in her Princeton uniform,
garnering 70 points. However, in her last three years at Princeton Allen was
the leader in penalty minutes, logging 224 minutes in 92 games.
So how do you become one of those
referees that put you in the box so many times?
“My husband referred in graduate school
and got me interested,” explained Allen.
“It was a way to make some extra money
and stay in the game,” she continued. “I knew there weren’t many women
officials but I thought I’d try it.”
The process begins with registering with
USA Hockey as an official and taking a class. There’s an open rulebook test at
the end and from there you start working USA hockey games.
“The opportunities grow from there,” she
“My first USA game was a Mite Cross Ice
and I was the linesman,” she remembers. “It was fun.”
Allen continues studying as she attends
regional development camps in the summer.
“USA Hockey works hard to develop their
officials,” she said. “There are regional, national and elite camps. The Elite
Camps get you certified to do international tournaments, such as the IIHF.
“Once you have that you are on the list
of officials to get assigned,” she continued.
While you’re in the stands yelling at the
officials, the fans aren’t the only ones watching the officials very closely.
“There are supervisors at many of the
games that watch us,” she said. “We don’t always know they’re there unless we
recognize them. But at the national and international level, they are always
there. In fact they meet with us to go over things before the games,
questioning us on rules.”
“The more experience you gain the
better,” she advises anyone thinking about this as a career move.
“You need to be flexible because you can
be called for a game at any time and the development camps are in the summer.
“Generally I know about a game a month in
advance, but sometimes you get called the week before, especially during
playoffs because no one knows who’s playing who when,” said Allen.
“Working the international tournaments is
a great way to meet people from all over the world,” she goes on. “My first
international game was in Germany and I was the only American official.
“I enjoy it because I get to learn about
their life style, culture and there is a camaraderie among the officials when
we are on the road.”
“Refereeing is a fun challenge. You learn
how to manage people and situations,” said Allen. “No one is ever happy about a
“There are a lot more rules than you know
as a player.”
“We need the number of referees to
increase and we are trying to grow it. So if someone wants to stay in the game,
but is unable to play, this may be the way.”
What about the yelling from the stands
and the bench?
“My law career has helped me handle
that,” she said smiling.
(Editor’s note: Dina has a husband and two children. Her husband is also a
referee and played ice hockey in Lockport. He was recently inducted into the
Howell Motors Hockey Hall of Fame located in the Cornerstone Arena in Lockport.