Frequently Answered Questions


Q: We’re playing in a division of 5 teams and we have an early game each day. Why?

A: The rules for scheduling events in Michigan are more stringent than those of USA Hockey.  For player safety, USA Hockey recommends 4 hours between games and in Michigan it a rule.  The Michigan rules are USA recommendations and are in place for the safety of the players.  Because of this dynamic, it is our belief that player safety should be at the top of our list of priorities, and we tend to apply the same rules at every venue.

In a division of five teams only four teams can play at any given time with one team sitting out.  This causes a leapfrog effect which in turn affects the schedule.

Q: How do I know if our team is home or away?

A: We’re old school at Big Bear and the home team is always listed first (or to the left on the schedule) and always wears white unless the away team only has one set of jerseys.

Q: How do I find the schedule and results online?

A: Results and your game schedule are available throughout the tournament at the arena or online by using the Game On Mobile app by extreme technologies.   If you prefer to not download the app you can still access GOM by click the GOM logo link  available on the event page on our website just below the event logo.

Other than results and standings, the app has one feature we highly recommend.  You can choose a setting that notifies you each time a game result is posted to a game in your division so you don’t need constantly look for updates.

Q: What do I do if my division has completed the round robin portion of the event and I can’t find the information online for the next round of games, semis, consolation, etc.

A: You can always contact the main arena (where the finals take place) and ask for the tournament director.  But it’s our experience that if you can be patient, the event director knows the situation and is working as fast as possible to update the information you’re looking for.  So the net effect of lots of phone calls it that they only slows down the result.

Q: Our team plays in a silver A division in our league and in the tournament we’re playing in a different designation like A2 or A3.  Why?

A: Please note that league designation are artificial place markers used by the league to separate skill levels within age groupings.  We do precisely the same thing but because teams come from many different areas of the country where place markers are different we will use your team rating and strength of schedule numbers to ensure that your team is place properly.

Because of this procedure we frown upon the idea that teams often attempt to self handicap their way into division they don’t belong in which they will dominate.  Sometimes it’s because of injuries or they’re going through a tough stretch in the season.  Unfortunately, it’s our concern that all teams have a fair shot at reaching the final and in over two decades of running hockey tournaments, when each division finishes there will only be one champion and hopefully the opportunity for all of the other to get there as well.

We always encourage the opportunity to discuss any concerns about team placement with the coach or manager prior to the event.

Arena & Game Procedures

Q: Once we arrive at the arena what do we need to do?

A: The manager or coach should secure a locker room from the arena staff.

Check in with the tournament director and put the stickers (3) on the score sheet.  If any of your other games are also at that rink, request the score sheets and put stickers on all of them.  Avery labels #5163 are the correct size for our score sheets.

If you have an updated roster or haven’t turned one in yet, you must present an official roster prior to going on the ice.  Failure to do so could result in a forfeit.

Each team contact was provided a copy of the tournament rules and there will also be a copy available the each arena.

Score keepers are scheduled for every tournament game.  On occasion, a score keeper may either be late or sick.  In this instance the tournament director may ask for assistance from one or both of the teams.

Either a coach or parent will need to work the penalty box door. Upon accepting this job, you’ve agreed to be an off-ice official.  That does not mean you have the right to bark at the on ice officials if you don’t agree with their calls.

Q: We have a game at an outdoor rink and it’s going to be cold and we’re concerned about frostbite.  What should we do?

Having grown up playing all of my games outdoors, I can assure you that frostbite would be a real shocker.  Please know that we too are concerned for your kids.  That why we purchase ice in outdoor facilities.

There are a few tips we’d like to share about this experience.  All in attendance, including coaches should dress warm.  Players on the other hand should not be overly warm or have too many layers of sub clothing.  The trick is to not break into a sweat and if you do it’s helpful to have self-wicking undergarments.  Coaches should intentionally keep the shifts short so excessive sweating is minimal. Players on the bench will maintain their body heat from the last shift and be back on the ice for another shift before they get cold.

Yes, it’s a whole different level of bench management but having personally watched many of these games each season, the thing I notice most is the number of smiles and excitement of the players leaving the ice after each game.

On Ice Officials (O.I.O.)

Q: How do I know if the officials are qualified to ref our game?

A: OIO will have a crest on their jerseys with the current year.  Previous seasons crests are good until November.  However, all officials that are used have been vetted prior to the event to ensure that they have registered and are in good standing with the governing body.

Q: What do I do if I don’t agree with the call on the ice?

A: If you’re not trained as an official, you can bring your issue to the attention of the event director on site or send us an inquiry and we’ll send you an explanation.  We will need the venue, date, time and game number of the game in question.

If you are trained or know a few rules and are on the bench you can request clarification from the OIO.  Depending on the situation they may address your concern at that time or defer until after the game.

We adhere strictly to the USA Hockey Zero Tolerance policy when it comes to the way you engage with the OIO.  Abusive language, swearing, or threats will result in your removal either from the bench or the arena. Your behavior could also cause your team to be penalized.

We understand that hockey is a passionate game and sometimes emotions run high.  We also understand that the OIO are not always going to call a perfect game.  They will make mistakes on occasion.

I always refer in my memory to an MLB game where a Tigers pitcher had a no hitter taken away on the last play of a televised game before review was an option.  The umpire called the player safe even though everyone there thought he was out and everyone watching TV saw the replay and was certain he was out.  So, if calls are missed at the pro level, they will also be missed on occasion at the amateur level but not intentionally.

Everyone knows these things happen.  It’s at this moment as a coach you have the opportunity to teach your players what good sportsmanship looks like….or not.

Q: What do I do if I don’t agree with the way the game is being called?

A: Because teams that enter an event are typically from different areas and because the game is not always called the same way in those areas, we’ve established a philosophy that over the years has been described by coaches and administrators alike as ‘Letting them play”.

This does not mean that nothing will be called. It means that the minor stuff or micromanaging the game will be avoided.  Anything that could cause injury, if it’s an infraction and blatant infractions will be called (unless both OIO missed it) but you should know that each official will call the game at their discretion.  Officials do not always see everything on the ice.  If you’ve never reffed a game, you really don’t have an appreciation of just how difficult it is.

Q: What do I do if the refs lose control of the game?

A: The first thing that should be noted before you come to this conclusion is, “Are the OIO calling penalties”

If so, then you should consider the dynamics of the game.  There are usually 3 to 4 coaches on each bench.  They are all watching the game and will see what they believe are infractions committed by both teams.  Unless they are condoning the actions by the players on their own bench, it is their job to notify the player(s) upon their return to the bench that that’s not the way the game should be played.  If the player exhibits similar behavior on any other shift, then the player should sit a shift or two to reinforce the standard.

So, what we are looking for is a game that’s called the same for each team but that doesn’t mean the penalties are even.  Refs will call what they see, and if they see one team that continues to commit infractions even though they’ve called penalty after penalty, that team will probably have more penalties at the games end.

As long as the OIO are calling the game in a consistent fashion, it’s the job of the players and coaches to notice what’s being called and adjust accordingly.  Failure to adjust isn’t the OIO concern.  They are trained to maintain player safety and that standard doesn’t change but player behavior can.

Q: We’re used to 3 refs in our league games.  Why does Big Bear sometimes only provide 2 at the midget / high school levels as opposed to their normal 4?   

A: Four officials are always scheduled except where there’s a local shortage of officials.  Sometime four are scheduled and we have a late cancellation.

A: The dynamics of 3 officials (one referee & two linesmen) is that the single referee (the person with the orange bands) is now charged with skating from end line to end line to call all of the goals and at the same time call all of the penalties.  In this situation, the linesman are only supposed to call off sides, icing, to many men, and drop the puck.

It is always our preference to have four officials managing the entire game.


Q: We only have one set of jerseys.  How can we be sure this won’t be an issue?

A: First off, you should let us know about this early in the process so we can check with and notify your opponents, however notifying your opponent when you arrive at the rink is always more effective.  The best solution is to borrow a set of appropriately colored pullovers from your hockey club.  These are typically used during try outs.  If you cannot get this done, upon arrival to the rink you should notify the director and the other team so things can proceed without an issue.

Q: Your rules say that mouth guards and neck guards are required only if they are required by our governing body.  Do we need to wear them in the tournament?

A: If these items are not required by your governing body, it is your responsibility to direct us to their website or send us the document spelling out the rule of your governing body.

With respect to mouth guards, we have responded to this question since our inception as follows:  Once upon a time when coaching and mouth guards were not mandatory and before concussions became a thing, on occasion I’d have a player tell me that he didn’t want to wear a mouth guard because he didn’t like the way it felt.  My reply to each player was “if you don’t want to wear a mouth guard, please play the game by removing your cup”.  Following the look of confusion on the players face I would reply “you should consider your priorities”.

At this point the player and parents can make an informed decision.  This I believe is what Charles Darwin referred to when he raised the issue of natural selection.


Q: I’ve noticed that the Original 6 and Next 6 medals are distributed randomly among the players.  What if I’d like to complete the set?

A: The reason we distribute them randomly is so when you play in subsequent events you can work toward collecting the set and if you receive the same building twice you can trade with a team member.

Because collecting all six buildings has become popular, we are considering issuing a limited-edition series that may be available soon. If this is of interest, please send us an email.

Q: We like the new banners but there seem to be a lot of blank space at the bottom.

A: That space was left there intentionally so you would have room to add the names of your players before hanging it in your rink.  If you’d like the name of a company that will add the names, please contact out office.

Q: Who receives medals?

A: Medals are awarded to the first and second place teams only.


Q: How do I go about getting a comp room for the coach?

A: Comp rooms are only awarded after the event has been completed so that the hotel can verify pick up.  Therefore, the person in line for the comp room will need to pay for their room with a credit card.   If the number of rooms picked up by the team each night meets the criteria posted on our website, then the credit card with be credited for the appropriate number of rooms earned.

Q: We had enough rooms booked at our hotel, but our coach did not receive a comp room.  Why?
A: Comp rooms are earned based on pick up and fulfilling the responsibility clause that was agreed to when registering.  This is accomplished by way of our agreement with each hotel.  Anyone booking a room outside the block, either by points or by some other way is NOT counted as part of your teams pick up.  This lack of compliance not only affects your coach’s comp room, but also your team discount.

Q: We’re playing in a 3 or 4 day tournament over MLK weekend (or President’s Day) and currently don’t know if we need the hotel rooms for 3 nights or more.

A: It is our experience that you should always, initially, book your rooms for the number of nights we advise and then adjust your nights once the schedule is released.  It is easier to cancel a night that to try and add one in a hotel that may already be full on the night you’d like to add.

General Questions

Q: Why don’t you provide an EMT at your events?

A: After 2 decades of running ice hockey tournaments, it is our experience that while there have been injuries that have occurred at the arena, there has never been an incident that would have been avoided or handled better than the present system of calling 911.