By Dave Zednik, IHOA Vice President
QUESTION: I have been involved in 2 separate instances this year where a minor penalty was assessed to a player on my team. In the first instance the officials did not know who caused the penalty so they did not just pick a player and send them to the bench. In a more recent game an official assessed a minor penalty to a player on my team and did not remember or see who caused the infraction. He then randomly picked a player to serve the penalty. He did however come to our bench and tell us that was what he was doing. How is an official supposed to handle the situation where there was definitely a penalty and they do not know who caused the infraction: do they just pick a player?
ANSWER: This situation is rare but it does happen to even experienced officials. The main concept to remember is that an opposing player had an opportunity taken away or suffered an injury-potential infraction. The player who committed the infraction should be held accountable.
In most cases, it’s pretty simple for the official and coach to work this out…
Official: “Coach, one of your players slashed an opponent in the corner. You saw it, I saw it, and the peanut vendors saw it. However, I lost the number. Who was it?”
Coach: “It was #9; I’ll send him over to the box.”
Official: “Thank you.”
In some cases, the penalty might be subtle and the coach might honestly not know who committed the infraction…
Official: “Coach, one of your players hooked their attacker in the slot area as he was trying to shoot. I lost the number, can you help me here?”
Coach: “There was too much traffic, I couldn’t see who it was.”
Official: “Well, it was someone on the ice. Why don’t we treat this one like a bench minor and give me someone who was on the ice at the time of the infraction.”
In almost all cases, the official makes the correct call and identifies the correct player. However, sometimes players do get lost due to traffic, inexperience, missing jersey numbers, events occurring in the game, etc. Therefore, if the player cannot be identified then the coach is the place to start for help. However, coaches are talking to players, managing lines, and thinking about strategy. Sometimes they just don’t see the infraction. In this case, it just makes sense to identify a player who was on the ice when the infraction occurred (you have a 20% chance of being correct), instead of making a mockery of the playing rules and competition by allowing the coach to play games.