Hello! Loco here. I'm the Bench Coach for Palouse River Rollers All Stars.
One of my most important responsibilities is to advocate for the team in terms of how penalties are being assessed. This is a skill that varies from game to game, as different Officiating Crews react differently to different approaches. In general, it’s not too hard to speak with the Head Referee in between jams about clarifications, information from skaters, or things I may thing were assessed in error.
If talking in the limited window between jams is not going to be effective to handle something, I can call an Official Review (OR). Let’s break down how ORs work.
Each team gets 1 OR per period. If you call an OR, you are looking for an officiating error. Points could be wrong, a penalty could have been missed, or a penalty may have been called in error. To win an OR, something has to change. If nothing changes, the team that called the OR has lost their OR for the period, and may not explicitly challenge any calls that are made for the rest of the period. As mentioned in the first section, you can still approach and discuss with the officials, but your formal ability is gone. If the team calls a successful OR, they retain their review. This means you can call ONE more OR in that period. That means the maximum number of OR’s one team can call in a game is 4. Call first in the First Period, retain, call a second. Call third in the Second Period, retain, call a fourth. It does not matter if it is successful or not, you no longer have a review after a second use in a single period.
The other use of an OR is as a clock stoppage. This means if you have an OR available, you can call it, inform the officiating crew that you are using it as a Time Out, and you get a 60 second break. As mentioned before, since no change occurs, this use of an OR means that you lose it after. The most common use of this is near the end of the First Period, because you do not get any advantage to not using your OR in the First Period, since it effectively resets at halftime.
Still with me? Okay! I know, OR’s are complicated.
Now that we know you don’t always have to use an OR to get adjustments to the officiating, and we’ve gone through how they work, let’s talk about using them. In no particular order, these are the points of emphasis we discuss about ORs.
So! Now we know how OR’s work, and what we are looking for when we call one, let’s do it!
For this write up, I will use an example from our recent tournament in Montana. One of our skaters was assessed with an Illegal Contact (Late Hit) penalty.
So, I held up my hands, making an O shape with my forefingers and thumbs touching, while also saying “Official Review” out loud. The Head Ref calls in the following people. The Captains (C’s) and Designated Alternates (A’s) for both teams. The Captain must be on skates, the Alternate may or may not. If anyone who is a C or A is in the Penalty Box, they cannot participate. As we called the OR, the Head Ref would say “This is (Team Color)’s Review”.
This is where it gets interesting. There is a blend of art and technical knowledge for making your case. Sometimes you make a very simple, direct statement. Other times you need to discuss impact spectrum, officiating discretion, or who exactly was the initiator. This was my argument, as close as I can remember.
“We would like the late hit on our blocker rescinded. While we acknowledge they did make contact with the opposing Jammer during and possibly after the Jam ending whistles, the hit did not meet impact spectrum. The Jammer was not knocked down, nor significantly off balance. As the Late Hit implies it was made after the whistles, I would like to point out that in between Jams, there is no ‘in bounds’ or ‘out of bounds’ so the fact that the jammer was knocked out of the track has no bearing on the impact.”
Depending on your Head Ref, they may ask clarifying questions. It is also not uncommon for the other team to express a view, or for the Head Ref to repeat back or paraphrase what you are requesting. Then, they discuss the call/no call with the other officials to decide if they agree with your argument.
In this case, they did agree. Our blocker made contact that they did say was after the whistles, but they agreed that the Impact Spectrum had not been met, so the penalty was removed. We retained the ability to call 1 more OR for that period.
So How do you win an Official Review? You offer clear information about what you are requesting to change. You make sure that you are confident in your interpretation, You offer reminders about any Official adding information to the review. You make your case in the most persuasive way you can. Again, this doesn’t always mean a lot of detail. Sometimes an OR is just making 3 Officials who all saw a little bit talk about it, put it together, and conclude that you were correct. Obviously, knowledge of the rules helps. But just because you know the rules doesn’t mean they saw what you did. The most important thing when you call an OR is to accept the results and move on. Sometimes, you lose an OR about something that the other team knows they got away with, and they stop doing it because the Officiating Crew is watching more closely. Or, the next time they do it, it gets called because it’s fresh in the Crew’s mind. Sometimes, you can Win the review even if you don’t retain it.
Now get out there, and win one!