Early reviews of the four-man officiating system

At the Division I level, they don’t see what all the fuss is about, but at the Division III level, it’s breaking new ground.

I’m talking about the four-man officiating system. It was put into place a few years ago. However, with concern over the financial impact to Division III schools with their smaller budgets, the rules makers allowed the three-man system to remain in Division III if the conferences choose to.

This year, the SUNYAC was the first, and so far only, Division III conference to go to the four-man system.

Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere saw the obvious difference when the Bengals played in the Adrian Tournament over Thanksgiving

“We were in Adrian, Michigan and they had the three-man system going there. It was so evident that system was set up to just get Division III schools by until they can figure out how to pay for the four-man system, because it is a flawed system. You can never call an offsides and be in position to call for a goal. It’s physically impossible, so they miss more offsides, and they are just not in position to make calls.”

That’s not to say it was smooth sailing from the start. With many of the officials never having worked a four-man system, there were quite a few teething problems. Especially when, in the opinion of some, they affected the outcome of a game.

After a hard fought 2-1 loss to Geneseo early in the season, Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith was in a sour mood.

“We got all this coverage for experienced officials to make experience plays. The flaw in the four-man system is with the inexperience of the linesmen. You are going to look at a tooth-and-nail hockey game and it comes down to an icing. There’s time left on the clock. So now the biggest plays of the games, which are the smallest plays of the game, come down to the least-experienced officials. How crazy is that? We’ve gone backwards, and it took me four games to figure it out.”

Since then, Meredith changed his tune. After another hard-fought game, this time the recent 3-3 tie against Buffalo State, Meredith had nothing but praise for the referees. When asked if the officiating has gotten better, he said, “Oh, yeah.”

“I think the first weekend or so, the linesmen really stood out,” he continued. “They needed some work. I don’t think there were any calls you could argue with tonight. I thought the officiating was excellent.”

Carriere is definitely one who sees the benefits.

“I think what our conference did, and the leadership we took to get that done, makes our game easier for officials to ref and put them in the best position to see the play. You always have a referee with the play coming to them, and you always have a referee trailing the play, and line-ees are always on the line. To me, that’s pretty darn simple.”

Carriere also acknowledges the coaches have a responsibility, too.

“Yes, we need more guys and there’s more of a field that we need to pull from. I think as coaches, we have to do our due diligence sending video tapes to Jeff Fulton [head of SUNYAC officials] helping to educate those guys, as well as our players, on the rules.”

Early feedback indicates the four-man system is here to stay in the SUNYAC. Will other Division III conferences find the financial resources to follow suit?

Tossing Teddies
Teddy Bears that is. What did you think I meant?

Geneseo is running a Teddy Bear Toss charity event this Friday against Salve Regina. All fans are urged to bring a new or gently-used stuffed animal to the game and toss it out onto the ice following the first goal scored by the Ice Knights.

Geneseo President Christopher Dahl, Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio, and Livingston County Chamber of Commerce President Cynthia Oswald are among the dignitaries who will aid skaters from the Livingston Blues Youth Hockey organization in picking up the toys from the ice.

They will then be donated to three local charities — Catholic Charities, Focus on the Children, and Foster Children of Livingston County.

Let’s hope Geneseo does not get shutout…

SUNYAC Players of the Week (selected by the conference)

Player of the Week — Ian Finnerty, (Sr.), Brockport. Tallied four points in Brockport’s 7-6 win over Morrisville. Finnerty opened the scoring for the Golden Eagles at 6:59 of the first. Morrisville took the lead twice in the third period, but Finnerty responded each time, keeping the game tied and completing the hat trick. The senior forward also assisted on Brockport’s sixth goal at 8:35 of the final period.

Rookie of the Week — Trevor Cope, Potsdam. Had another strong weekend, helping the Bears to a 1-1 weekend. Cope had two assists against Cortland in Potsdam’s 5-1 win on Friday. On Saturday, Cope netted two goals against Oswego. Cope’s 14 points, an average of 1.56 points per game, continues to lead all conference freshmen.

Goalie of the Week — Dylan Ellis (Fr.), Potsdam. Recorded 82 combined saves in a 1-1 weekend for Potsdam. On Friday, allowed one goal on 36 shots to guide the Bears to their third straight win — a 5-1 victory against Cortland. Ellis made 47 saves the following night against Oswego, including 21 saves in the second period, despite a 6-4 loss to the Lakers.

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