EIHL moves to four-man officiating

Ice hockey is set to move to a four-man officiating system in January 2018 (Pic: Martin Watterston)
Ice hockey is set to move to a four-man officiating system in January 2018 (Pic: Martin Watterston)

Ice hockey is to introduce a four-man officiating system from January.

The Elite League will also leave discipline in the hands of an external body led by a former NHL linesman until the end of the season.

The moves come after a meeting to discuss how games, and any flashpoints, are handled following outrage over a one-game banded down by DOPS – the Department of Player Safety – following a mid-ice attack.

The league took the unprecedented act of reviewing DOPS’ decision, calling in Lyle Seitz, former NHL stripey, and the Player Safety Committee to take a fresh look at the footage.

They have continued to handle all requests for supplementary discipline, and will remain in situ for the remainder of the season.

But the big change is the move from three to four on-ice officials.

From January, all Elite league, Challenge Cup and playoff games will be handled by a quartet of officials.

The plan is to use senior stripeys to work hand in hand refs new to the top flight.

Todd Kelman, MD at Cardiff Devils, and a member of the board which unanimously endorsed the move, said it was part of a longer term plan to improve standards of officiating.

He said: “We feel that the EIHL is too good a league to be running the three-man-system going forward.

“All of the top leagues around the world are using the four-man system, and this change should result in speeding up games and improve player safety.

“We can’t make the change overnight. We have to look at who is out there and how we transition to the four-man system, but the aim is to start using it in January, if we can find enough quality officials who are ready to make the jump to the EIHL.”

The next step is for board members to meet with Joy Johnston, refereeing chief and director of the Officiating Education Programme for Ice Hockey UK (IHUK), on November 28 to discuss it further.

The league has also agreed to increase the range of penalties which will automatically be reviewed by DOPS.

All 2+10 and 5+Game penalties for checking to the head, all 2+10 and 5+Game penalties for checking from behind and all match penalties are already on the list.

New on DOPS radar will be all five-minute major penalties and any body contact penalties which result in an injury.