Saturday 21st February – Slough Jets Programme

Good evening and welcome to the Hangar for tonight’s match up with the Guildford Flames. These games are always well attended and usually have great atmosphere so let’s hope tonight on the ice lives up to the high standards set by the previous matches.

Last week on THF a fan of an NIHL team launched into an attack on a referee at his team’s game. That’s not an unusual thing I guess but there were some strange points. First you have to understand the pecking order of course. With NIHL being the third tier of British hockey it’s highly unlikely the UK’s best officials will be regularly allocated to it, just the same was as the UK’s best players aren’t playing in it. The officials, as will players, are aspiring to referee at the highest levels they can which I don’t think it an unreasonable desire for them to have!

In my years of hockey involvement I have got to know many officials. Just as the players they turn up at the games to do their job the best they can. No official ever sets out to referee a game badly and that’s a fact. Officials are human, just like the players and no human is 100% perfect. Mistakes will happen with officiating but thankfully they are very rare. In the heat of the game from the stands I’m certain it’s easy to believe that the official in charge is an incompetent buffoon if a call goes against your team but having the video footage to watch over and over you can usually see the reasoning behind all the calls.

I think we are fortunate to have some fantastic, experienced officials working in the league and some great upcoming officials too. The highlight for British officiating this week was the announcement that Joy Johnston has been allocated to UK Women’s Final match. This is without doubt the highest accolade for any official and shows the high regard the IIHF and IOC hold Joy in. Throughout her career as an official Joy has had to work had to make it in what is traditionally a man’s domain but the simple fact is if you look at Joy as an official the same as any other official it turns out you can see she’s actually quite a good official as the IIHF and Olympic committee clearly agree.

I have no idea who is allocated to officiate tonight’s game but when they skate out just remember that they are here to do the job the best they can, they are most likely here more for love of the sport than financial gain and most importantly without them the game cannot be played!

Enjoy tonight’s game. Be loud for your team and don’t forget to get your photos coming in of you and your mates at the game. Tonight’s hashtag is #sjgf

My team, your team, OUR TEAM