WCHA Suspends Assistant Referee

WCHA assistant referee Jay Kleven has been suspended indefinitely by the league for two calls made during the Minnesota-North Dakota games last weekend in Grand Forks.

The decision to suspend Kleven was made by WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd, who was in attendance at the games, then reviewed the tapes.

The calls in question came in the third period with the game tied, once each night of the Friday-Saturday series. Kleven called a penalty, and North Dakota scored on the ensuing power play each time.

Assistant referees are instructed to call blatant penalties that the head referee missed. Shepherd was concerned that Kleven made the penalty calls even though the plays were seen and let go by the head referee.

“The [assistant referees] are supposed to call minor penalties not observed by the referee. This one was,” Shepherd said to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “The only ones they can call in front of the referee are majors.

“I thought both calls [by Kleven] were improper. He used poor judgment. What disappoints me is I talked to him after Friday’s game and then it happened again Saturday.”

Kleven, who lives in Grand Forks, could not be reached for comment.

Shepherd said that it is common for assistant referees to live in the area where they work games, and shrugged off any possibility of a conflict of interest.

“We’ve never had to have them travel because of a request by a visiting coach. That’s a pretty good record,” Shepherd said to the Pioneer Press.

Three years ago, the WCHA suspended an entire crew. Referee Buzz Christensen, and linesmen Jon Campion and Mark Nebel were sat for one weekend when the league said they missed a flagrant checking-from-behind penalty on a Northern Michigan player by a Minnesota player during a Nov. 23, 1997, game in Marquette, Mich.