Members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team recently made a significant contribution to selected youth hockey associations across the country, sending 300 total sets of OneGoal starter equipment to the programs that helped shape and inspire their own hockey dreams.
Each player on the American roster was provided with 12 sets of equipment to donate to the youth hockey association of their choice. Each equipment set includes shin pads, shoulder pads, elbow pads, pants, gloves, a helmet with a cage, and a bag.
Today, more than 40,000 OneGoal starter equipment sets are in arenas and youth hockey associations nationwide to help families get started in hockey without the initial barrier of purchasing equipment. Total Hockey is a key partner with USA Hockey in the OneGoal equipment initiative.
"The Olympic dream began in many of these local hockey associations for our athletes and they never forget it," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "With the OneGoal program, they have an opportunity to help inspire a new generation of kids, while also saluting the people who helped them chase their Olympic dream."
Three-time U.S. Olympian Julie Chu donated to her childhood rink in Connecticut and remembered fondly the role it played in her development.
"It's truly my home rink, where I grew up and developed a love for the game," she said. "I'm so grateful for the time I spent playing there, and I love that I can give back to a place that has meant so much to me."
Minnesotan Anne Schleper, who will be playing in her first Olympic Winter Games, donated to a Minneapolis urban youth hockey association for which she served as a volunteer.
"Every time I had the opportunity to volunteer there, I was immediately filled with laughter and joy," she said. "I hope my donation becomes a great blessing to them and can help contribute to the wonderful standards they encourage every single day in their kids.
"Hockey gave me a way and a voice; all these kids need is an opportunity for the same."
|Kacey Bellamy||New England Junior Falcons Girls||Enfield, Conn.|
|Megan Bozek||Chicago Blackhawks Youth Hockey||Chicago, Ill.|
|Kate Buesser||Back Bay Indians||Wolfeboro, N.H.|
|Alex Carpenter||New Jersey Colonials||Morristown, N.J.|
|Lisa Chesson||Tomahawks Special Hockey||Chicago, Ill.|
|Julie Chu||Wonderland Wizards||Bridgeport, Conn.|
|Kendall Coyne||Chicago Blackhawks Youth Hockey||Chicago, Ill.|
|Brianna Decker||Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association||Manitowoc, Wis.|
|Meghan Duggan||Danvers Youth Hockey||Danvers, Mass.|
|Jincy Dunne||St. Louis Cyclones / STL Lady Blues||St. Louis, Mo.|
|Lyndsey Fry||Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association / She Wolves||Scottsdale, Ariz.|
|Amanda Kessel||North Metro Youth Hockey Association||Minneapolis, Minn.|
|Hilary Knight||Sun Valley Youth Hockey||Sun Valley, Idaho|
|Jocelyne Lamoureux||Grand Forks Parks District Angels||Grand Forks, N.D.|
|Monique Lamoureux||Grand Forks Parks District Angels||Grand Forks, N.D.|
|Gigi Marvin||Warroad Youth Hockey||Warroad, Minn.|
|Brianne McLaughlin||Elyria Ice Hockey||Elyria, Ohio|
|Annie Pankowski||Anaheim Lady Ducks||Anaheim, Calif.|
|Michelle Picard||Taunton Brewins||Taunton, Mass.|
|Josephine Pucci||Ramapo Saints Youth Hockey||Monsey, N.Y.|
|Molly Schaus||East Coast Jumbos||Boston, Mass.|
|Anne Schleper||DinoMights||Minneapolis, Minn.|
|Kelli Stack||Parma Flyers Hockey Association||Parma, Ohio|
|Lee Stecklein||Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association||Roseville, Minn.|
|Jessie Vetter||Madison Patriots||Madison, Wis.|
For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials.
USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?
Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.
USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season?
Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that.
The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.
USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?
Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.
USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official?
Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.
USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career?
Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.
USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?
Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.
USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?
Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.
USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career?
Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.