Saskatchewan Officiating Development Model
The Officiating Development Program is very proud of the cooperation it has seen with the partners involved, which makes this one of the strongest programs in the country and the SODM is a continuation of these programs.
Our branch has developed a number of professional officials working in the NHL (Peter MacDougall, Graham Skilliter, Brad Meier), AHL (Adam Bloski, Tarrington Wyonzek), ECHL (Tannum Wyonzek) and elite officials in the WHL (Cody Beach, Jason Bourdon, Aydon Brown, Spencer Cave, Chris Crich, Adam Forbes, Karlin Krieger, Mike Langin, Bob Millette, Troy Murray, Levi Schutz, Al Scott, Bryce Sebastian, Ridge Brooks, Riley Carriere, Jordan Carriere, Avery Davison, Sean Dufour, Tyler Garden, Brayden Glynn, Cody Hall, Cam Kuffner, Ryan Lundquist, Tanner McGregor, Lucas Nagel, Aidan Penner, Andrew Sawatsky, Troy Semenchuk, Owen Shirtliffe, Ty Skene, Devan Thiessen, Logan Tisdale, Brent Vandermeulen) as well as international and nationally ranked officials. The SODM has also helped with the development of officials who have been selected to work the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship and IIHF World Junior Championship to name a few. None of this would be possible without the constant support of the branch and the dedication to the communication and teamwork between the partners of the SODM and the officials.
Saskatchewan Officiating Development Model
SODM Task Team
The Saskatchewan Officiating Development Model (SODM) includes all aspects of officiating from recruitment and retention to instruction, development, coaching, ranking, assignments and tracking officials for the benefit of the officials and ultimately the SODM partners at the high-performance level.
The SODM Task Team meets three times per season.
The SODM focuses on ranking and recommending officials for provincial and national events and championships including the National High Performance Camp and Hockey Canada’s Officiating Program Of Excellence Camp. At the provincial level, with the help of the Official’s Instruction Committee, the SODM administrates the Member High Performance Camp (Formerly known as the Level 4/5 Camp). Officials interested in the Member High Performance Camp are invited to apply every second season and 16-24 officials will be selected for the camp. The Officiating Development Program looks to host the Member High Performance Camp in January 2022.
Applications are CLOSED at this time.
Questions You May Have
1) At what age is an official eligible for inclusion in the Saskatchewan Officiating Development Model?
- Officials can be part of the model at any age. The first introduction to the SODM is often at the SaskFirst and U15AA level.
2) Is there a prescribed period for an official’s development?
- No, the development of any official is up to them based on their talent level, rate of progression, work ethic, dedication and opportunities in the area.
3) Will working high-performance hockey as an official effect other things as far as time commitment?
- No, every league allows the officials to work games on their own schedule and many of the positions are assigned through the province wide online system called Arbiter. This allows all officials to mark their availability on a monthly basis. The assignors do everything in their power to accommodate the schedules of officials.
4) How does an official get opportunities within the SODM?
- Officials are encouraged to register for the SaskFirst Camps where they are exposed to SODM members and official coaches. They are also encouraged to reach out to the league’s director of officials with their intentions and goals as official.
5) Do I have to limit myself to one of the leagues in the SODM at a time?
- No, many of the best officials in our branch move freely from one league to another. This helps to provide them with the training opportunity of subjecting themselves to various brands of hockey. Also, the leagues work very closely with each other when scheduling to provide officials with the maximum availability and development opportunities.
6) If I want to get into officiating after I’m done playing hockey, do I have to start at the bottom and work my way up?
- When a mature player transitions to officiating, the possibility exists to progress that official quickly based on their ability and if they have knowledge of the game, a commitment to their development and some strong physical abilities such as being a good skater and physically fit.
Saskatchewan U15AA Hockey League
The SAAHL joined the SODM for the 2011-12 season and has been a great partner moving forward. This league is used to provide young, but capable, officials a chance to be introduced to the expectations and experiences of officiating high-performance hockey. The U15AA league provides an opportunity for young officials to work with veteran officials and experienced hockey coaches on the other side of the game to gain experience and confidence while receiving coaching throughout the season from SODM official coaches. The SU15AAHL has transitioned to the 4-official system to also help prepare the officials for advancement to higher leagues associated within the SODM and provide the best officiating experience for the league.
The SU15AAHL has its own Director of Officiating, who is responsible for the assigning and rating of referees in the league while many centres still assign the linespersons through their local assigning system. The director also works in conjunction with local assigners and grassroots committee members in identifying new candidates to work the league and to provide them with opportunities to officiate in the league.
Saskatchewan U18AA Hockey League
The U18AA League joined the SODM to help with the transition from U15AA to U18AAA. This league allows for younger prospects and experienced officials to work side by side and provides a chance to be introduced to the expectations and experiences of officiating high-performance hockey and confidence while receiving coaching throughout the season from SODM official coaches. The SU18AAHL uses the 4-official system to provide the league with the best officiating experience and creates opportunities for a large number of officials to work the league.
The SU18AAHL works in partnership with the U15AAHL as far as Director of Officiating and they are responsible for the assigning and rating of referees and linespersons in the league.
Saskatchewan Female U18AA Hockey League
The Female AAA League recently joined the SODM prior to the 2020-21 season to help focus on the development of female officials. This league allows for younger prospects and experienced officials to games together. This league has locally focused official coaches and expects to see an increase in the number of games supervised since joining the SODM. The goal is to create more consistency and support for officials and evaluate officials who are ready to move up to the Female USports and the male U18 AAA level. The SUF18AAAHL uses the 4-official system to provide the league with the best officiating experience.
The league’s Director of Officials works closely with local assignors and coaches to evaluate and support officials in this league.
Saskatchewan U18 AAA Hockey League
The SU18AAAHL has always been one of the top minor hockey leagues in Canada, yet their mission has always been to focus on the importance of development first and foremost, and this dedication to development covers all aspects of the game including officiating. The SU18AAAHL has always been tremendously supportive to the Officiating Development Program as a partner in this area.
The SU18AAAHL has historically allowed the Officiating Development Program the freedom to use younger officials considered in the prospects pool and give them every opportunity to train and develop while being introduced to very high level of hockey.
The SU18AAAHL has its own independent Director of Officiating, who along with the north and south linesman assignors, are responsible for the assigning and the coaching of the officials within the league. This constant communication allows for the flow of officials as they continue to be identified within the system. This league has transitioned to the 4-official system for all games and often provides experienced and confident officials. At this level, the expectation of the officials is to be in as good or better physical fitness than the players they are working. Officials at this are mandated to complete off-ice fitness testing each season. The Director of Officials for the SU18AAAHL is in the business of scouting officials for higher leagues such as the PJHL, SJHL and WHL while focusing on the development aspect and providing the league with the best officials possible.
The SU18AAAHL is also mindful of the need to develop officials who will be valuable to the smaller communities within Saskatchewan, and therefore continue to have a strong local flavor within the officiating staff.
Prairie Junior Hockey League
The PJHL provides officials looking to build on their development and experience and is often used as a transitional league between the SU18AAAHL and the SJHL. This league provides challenges to all officials throughout the season, but also provides extensive support for the SODM official coaches. The PJHL has committed to going with the 4-officials system, which provides more official development opportunities and a great way for veteran officials to work with prospects moving up the ranks.
Like the SU18AAAHL, the PJHL requires officials to complete off-ice fitness testing each season, which displays the officials level of dedication to the craft and commitment to being in as good of physical condition as the players within the league.
The PJHL has a Director of Officials, who along with the north and south assignors, discuss and assign officials working within league with the goal to provide the best officials possible while providing development opportunities.
Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League
The SJHL officiating program is designed to allow officials to continue to develop at the highest level of hockey of any non-minor hockey league solely contained within the province of Saskatchewan.
The SJHL is a self-contained unit as far as officiating is concerned. The SJHL has its own officiating staff, led by its own Director of Officials, who works with a support staff, north and south assignors and official coaches throughout the league. The goal of this staff is not only to train the officials of the league but also to provide the highest, and most consistent level of officiating possible for the league’s member partners.
The SJHL officiating management staff is constantly on the lookout for new officials and is also constantly in touch with other leagues such as the SU18AAAHL to identify possible prospects as this is the smallest roster of officials within the SODM.
The SJHL spends considerable resources on the training of its officials and uses its coaches to educate the teams on the subjects of new rules procedures and communication.
The SJHL has a presence at all SaskFirst camps and is constantly educating both potential officials and their parents on the advantages presented by their league.
The SJHL also is the next stepping stone to the WHL and the USports levels, many of the officials now working in the WHL, and hoping to in the future, are getting their most extensive training in the SJHL. The WHL will also send supervisors out to SJHL games from time to time to watch officials or scout them through online streamed games. Young officials who have been to WHL camps may be enlisted in the SJHL to work on certain aspects of their game, if this happens they usually do this in the SJHL and therefore the scouting of these officials is of utmost importance.
The SJHL limits the number of officials it has on staff to provide them with the most games to develop consistency, and to provide the best product to the teams.
One of the most important policies of the SJHL is to supervise the highest percentage of games within its schedule as possible.
The SJHL uses the 4-official system and like all leagues creates a level of competition among officials to earn playoff assignments and championship opportunities.
Western Hockey League
The Western Hockey League is a developmental league for players, coaches and officials. As a result, the Western Hockey League has a very high degree of focus on the recruitment, development and coaching of officials.
The objectives of the WHL Officiating program are:
- Encourage and support development programs for officials
- Identify and recruit prospect officials
- Monitor and assist with the development of prospect officials
- Select and develop the best possible officials for the WHL
- Assist officials in the pursuit of opportunities in the National Hockey League and Elite Amateur levels, including IIHF World Hockey Championships
Officials working in the WHL make a significant commitment both on and off the ice to be involved at such a highly competitive level of hockey. This commitment can lead not only to success in the WHL, but in many cases it also leads to other officiating opportunities at professional and amateur levels. At one time, approximately one-third of officials in the NHL moved through the WHL ranks before advancing to a professional career, and every season, WHL officials are assigned to national and international assignments.
The WHL works in partnership with many organizations such as the SHA, Hockey Canada and the National Hockey League to assist with delivery of officiating programs and officiating opportunities. Every season, WHL officials are invited to attend events such as the Officiating Program of Excellence and NHL exposure camps and WHL Prospect Camps. Prospect officials for the WHL are identified through various development camps and at other officiating seminars. Prospects are monitored in game situations and their progress is regularly evaluated to update depth charts for future opportunities in the WHL.
Officials in the WHL receive a considerable amount of supervision and coaching. WHL supervisors act in a coaching role at the games they attend to assist with the individual development of each referee and linesman. A supervisor attends approximately 50% of all games played in the WHL. In addition to on-site supervision, the WHL also has a video editing suite that provides regular video training to the officials. Video clips are used to assist officials in understanding the expected penalty standards and on-ice technical skills required to be successful.
The WHL is committed to working with the partners involved in the SODM to support programs designed to assist in the recruitment and development of officials.
Canadian University and Alberta College Hockey
USports and the ACAC are unofficially partnered with the SODM, as the official rosters for these teams in Saskatchewan often reflects the official’s roster of the PJHL, SJHL and WHL. These leagues provide a unique opportunity for officials to work a very high level of hockey with the added aspect of dealing with older players. Most of the players at the collegiate level are graduates or current officials in junior hockey and other SODM leagues.
The major benefit of officiating at this level is its league policy to have as many games as possible supervised, this provides an enormous opportunity for its officials to learn on a constant game-to-game basis at arguable the highest level of hockey in the province.
Male USports and the WHL have negotiated an agreement to provide more movement between the leagues of officials who work both leagues as one more aspect of the training necessary to help them move towards a professional career in officiating and to provide the best possible officials for the best hockey played within Western Canada.
Both USports, Male and Female, and the ACAC use the 4-official system and gives the officials and officials coaches an opportunity to communicate with resources outside of the province.