November 2021, the New Jersey Devils hosted the Sled Classic, a tournament in which sled hockey players from all levels gathered at the Ice Vault in Wayne, NJ to play the sport they love.
Players, organizers, and officials all came together to make the tournament a success.
“I had my eye on officiating sled hockey for a couple years because I have a few friends that did it and enjoyed it,” said Larry Kruglyak, an official at the tournament. “I was reached out to by someone for the district with the opportunity, so I took it.”
Kruglyack and other interested officials did not have to attend a separate seminar or receive additional training. Instead, Kruglyack attended a brief Zoom meeting where he received a run-down of the rules.
Steve Shatkin, another official at the tournament, did a lot of research on the game independently. Shatkin has been officiating hockey for about 23 years, but his first experience officiating sled hockey was at the Sled Classic.
“I have so much respect for those players on the ice,” Shatkin said. “I wanted to do a good job for them. Even though I've been officiating for a long time and I know the game, I don't know sled hockey that well and all the intricacies.”
Shatkin said he wanted to make sure he was calling out the correct penalties and looking for the right things. Kruglyack said the main difference for him was the T-boning call, a penalty specific to sled hockey.
Despite the subtle differences, both officials said the game and the players remain basically the same.
“Hockey players are hockey players whether you're on two feet or two sled blades,” said Shatkin. “They love the game, they play hard, … and they get angry at the refs when they miss something.”