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IHONC Evaluations

IHONC strives to provide the best qualified officials for all league games, and the best development opportunities for all officials. The cornerstone of this strategy is IHONC's evaluation program. This page explains how the program works.

Every IHONC official has a rating, from New (lowest) to 6 (highest). Officials also have a USA Hockey level, from 1 (lowest) through 4 (highest). These two measures are related but not the same. Here is a comparison between the two.

USA Hockey Level IHONC Rating
Assigned by: USA Hockey IHONC
Criteria: Fees paid
Rule knowledge (measured with written tests)
USA Hockey level
Performance during assignments (measured with formal evaluations)
Impact: Not used directly for scheduling IHONC games. May affect ability to work tournaments and games outside Northern California. Controls the levels, roles, and types of IHONC games for which you can be scheduled, and (for adult games) the amount IHONC pays for them.

IHONC Ratings

Your IHONC rating controls what assignments you are given for IHONC games. The minimum IHONC ratings for our various leagues and levels are shown here. Your IHONC rating also controls what games are visible to you on the Available Games list. For adult games, your IHONC rating also controls the amount you are paid for each game.

Officials who are new to IHONC are typically assigned an initial rating of New (the lowest), unless their officiating skills are already known to IHONC's schedulers, in which case an initial rating appropriate to their skills will be estimated.

Each IHONC official receives a formal evaluation at least twice per year (see description below). Officials new to IHONC will receive an evaluation as soon as possible after they start working for IHONC. These evaluations may result in changes to your IHONC rating (up or down).

However, your IHONC rating is not determined exclusively by the official who evaluates your performance. Your evaluator will meet with the other evaluators, the evaluation program coordinators, and the schedulers to decide when rating changes are appropriate. This process ensures consistency in the ratings across all of IHONC's officials.

Note also that there are limits to how fast your rating can be increased. In general, an official must have worked at a particular rating in at least the minimum number of games for that level, with at least two evaluations, before the rating can be increased.

The following table shows the criteria for each IHONC rating.

Rating Skating Positioning & Mechanics Rule Knowledge Experience / Judgment / Awareness On-Ice Presence & Communication Minimum # of Games Worked At This Level
New and 1 Squirt B or better; able to skate forwards and backwards in open ice with no major flaws; learning forwards/backwards transitions; can stop and turn either direction; learning basic crossunders Learning basic positioning and mechanics; some basic flaws still apparent; still learning correct signals Passed USAH L1 open-book exam; learning common rules and penalty situtations (offside, icing, common penalties); will exhibit errors in rule application for out-of-the-ordinary situations Relatively new to officiating; has done few or no games; beginning to develop experience & judgement Developing basic presence and communication skills 50-100
2 PeeWee B or better; can consistently execute control stop in either direction, forward or backward; uses V-start consistently; developing balance and control forwards and backwards; forward/backward transitions stay in balance in open ice; able to turn and escape with enough open ice; solid command of forward crossunders, developing backward crossunders Solid grasp of positioning and mechanics for both 2-man and 3-man systems; generally in position with few minor errors; no major positioning errors; knows correct signals, but may need to improve execution Passed USAH L1 open-book exam; completely comfortable with common rules and penalty situations; developing broader knowledge of less-common situations; may have errors in rule application in highly-unusual situations Has developed basic judgement for common situations; penalty selection as a referee generally falls under penalty criteria Beginning to communicate effectively with players, coaches and captains in lower-level, less-difficult games; as a linesman, generally provides some presence and control during stoppages; may have some challenges in controlling difficult or physical games 100
3 Bantam B or better; consistent balance and control in open ice, solid forwards and backwards transitions at speed in open ice; good command of forward and backward crossunders; can execute quick turns and escapes as needed to achieve position Mechanics and signal are automatic and crisp; Consistently in good position in slower-paced games; developing skill in achieving and maintaining solid positioning in faster-paced games Passed USAH L2 closed-book exam; solid rule knowledge across a broad set of situations; makes very few errors in rule application, and only in the most unusual of situations Solid, consistent penalty selection for common situations; beginning to develop good game management skills for higher level games Communicates effectively with players & coaches at low- to mid-level games; beginning to feel more at ease in controlling difficult or physical games; as a linesman, provides consistent presence and control at stoppages 100
4 Bantam A or better; solid balance and control, forwards and backwards; consistent forward/backward tranisitions in open ice; able to easily manuever through light traffic; consistently executes turns and escapes in tight spaces In good position in fast-paced games; learning to establish solid position in difficult situations (puck in close, net play, tight blue line play); reads partners and provides backup coverage as needed in tight situations Passed USAH L2 closed-book exam; outstanding knowledge and application of rules and situtations in all situations Effectively uses consistent penalty selection to manage high level games; beginning to develop advanced sense of game flow Is comfortable managing more difficult situations and games through communications with players, coaches, and captains; as a linesman, provides a strong physical presence when needed during stoppages 150
5 Midget A or better; outstanding balance and control; completely seamless forward/backward transitions; able to manuever through moderately heavy traffic; able to accelerate backwards from blue line with no forward start and beat play to opposite line in fast-paced games Consistently in very good position in fast-paced games; effective at establishing and maintaining desired positioning as play moves close to official; consistently supports partners as needed Passed USAH L3 closed-book exam; consistent application of rules in every situtation; in-depth understanding of unusual situations Highly effective in managing all different types of games (easy, physical, close, important) through very consistent game management; strong sense of game flow Is very comfortable and confident in high-level games, regardless of the level of difficulty; proactively communicates with players and coaches to head off potential issues; as a linesman, manages approach and execution at stoppages to match attitude of players and intensity of the game 150
6 Junior A or better; flawless balance and control; able to manuever through the heaviest traffic; able to acclerate backwards through neutral zone at highest levels of hockey Always in position in highest-level games; consistently works to get best angles on play Passed USAH L3 closed-book exam; in-depth understand of not only rules but "intent" of rules; detailed knowledge by section and rule number Has worked mostly at high levels of hockey; completely effective in recognizing game flow, unusual situations arising; potential for escalating problems, and proactively officiating to head off major issues Is completely confident at the highest-level of hockey; consistently communicates with players and coaches to maintain a consistent game flow; is very adept at using communication skills to ward off potential problems; manages stoppages almost transparently, unless an altercation (or potential altercation) is underway  


The evaluation coordinators will assign an evaluator to you. Every effort is made to ensure that you have the same evaluator for all of your evaluations, so that you can get feedback on your progress. Your evaluator will come to one of your scheduled games and watch your performance. You will not be notified in advance that your evaluation is in progress.

After your game is over, your evaluator will meet with you and discuss your performance. Your evaluator will show you written notes and a 1-9 score in each of the following categories: Appearance, Skating, Positioning, Face-Offs, Signals, Judgment, and Awareness. There will also be an overall score and summary comments. Finally, and most importantly, there will be one or more areas for development identified, with a specific development plan for each.

During this discussion, you should take the time to ask your evaluator any questions you may have about your performance and how to improve it. If you do not have time for a full discussion, perhaps because of another game assignment, make arrangements to speak with your evaluator at some other time, so that you can get all of your questions answered.

Sometime within a few days of your evaluation, your evaluator will type it into our web site. You will receive email indicating that it is available. You can always review your past evaluations by visiting here.

The evaluators and schedulers meet approximately once a month, so any change to your IHONC rating resulting from your evaluation may not take effect for a few weeks.   Also, your new rating (Pay) will only be effective on newly scheduled games. To qualify for an IHONC rating increase to level 3 or beyond, your evaluation must be made for a game in which you are the referee in a three man system.

Officials are scheduled for evaluations:

  • at least twice a year
  • as soon as possible after a new official starts with IHONC
  • when the official requests one
  • when feedback from leagues or teams suggests that one is needed
If you wish to request an evaluation, you can do so here.

Mentor Program

Some officials prefer more active assistance in their development. IHONC has a mentor program, and will try to assign a mentor to those officials who request one. There are several things a mentor can do for you, depending on the amount of consulting you desired:

  • Your mentor will be open for phone calls and emails from you whenever you have a game situation or an officiating concern you want to discuss. This can be especially helpful and reassuring after the occasional unsatisfactory game.
  • Your mentor can join you on the ice for one of your assigned games, and give you real-time feedback during play and during stoppages. In these cases, your mentor is not another on-ice official, will not be wearing stripes, and will not influence the game in any way (except in emergencies). The only role your mentor serves is to give you constructive feedback. After the game, your mentor will file an evaluation report as described above.
  • Your mentor can also give you real-time feedback during your game by sitting in the stands and talking to you over one-way radio.
If you wish to be assigned a mentor, you can request it here.

Questions or Comments

If you have questions about IHONC ratings, evaluations, or mentors, or you have a suggestion for improvement of IHONC's development programs, please contact:

IHONC Evaluation Coordinators Randy Meyer <>
Dan Voznik <>
IHONC Schedulers Todd Llewellyn <>
Mark Mauro <>

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