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
Rule knowledge (measured with written tests)
|USA Hockey level
Performance during assignments (measured with formal evaluations)
||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.
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.
||Positioning & Mechanics
||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
||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
||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
||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
||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
||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
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.
Officials are scheduled for evaluations:
If you wish to request an evaluation, you can do so
- 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
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:
If you wish to be assigned a mentor, you can request it
- 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.
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: