Editor’s Note: This is the second in a five-part series that will take a look at the people who perform a variety of duties away from the playing surface for the Prince Albert Raiders. Every team has a core group of people like these and many of those that will be acknowledged in this series also work with the A&W Bears and Prince Albert Mintos - and many others.
There is a group of men that game in and game out perform a duty that is necessary for a game to be played.
They often slide under the radar yet they are there in plain view every game, year after year.
They, of course, are the off-ice officials and the Prince Albert Raiders can consider themselves very fortunate to have a group that has more than 200 years of combined service.
To the average fan, this group works the penalty box and time clock, does some scorekeeping and goal judging and there are also a couple of people who do some spotting so that scoring plays are called correctly.
As a group, the off-ice officials do a lot more.
“Our jobs keep the flow of the game going,” says off-ice coordinator Gerry Bergen, a veteran of 28 seasons with the Raiders. “We are an extension of the on-ice officials (the referees). If we screw up we make them look bad.”
The group consists of 14 individuals with nine of those needed every game. Gerry Bergen is often the official scorekeeper while his brother Elder is in charge of communications. Elder Bergen talks to the video-replay personnel after every goal to confirm if it is a legitimate score and he also relays scoring and penalty calls from the ice to the announcer’s booth so that it can be broadcast to the fans over the public address system.
Rick Willie is generally the man running the clock while Wayne Soles and Lloyd McBeath usually work the penalty box doors.
The remainder of the crew split their time between spotting and goal judging. They are: George Sinclair, Al Subchyshyn, Rick Pullen, Rick Gassior, Alex Fiddler, Rick Hodgson, Cam Bergen, Jean Mauvieux and Ron Wildey. Sinclair is the veteran of the group as this is his 41st season as an off-ice official.
Two goal judges are needed every game to count shots on goal and signal with a red light if the puck passes entirely over the goal line and another pair are upstairs to confirm goals and assists so that players get accurate statistics recorded.
Goal judges and spotters are often assigned games on a rotating basis and there are times when someone can’t make it to a game for any combination of reasons. That is where the extra bodies come into play.
“If anyone can’t make it they have to find their own replacement out of our group,” says Gerry Bergen.
All of them are there to perform a task, but they are also Raider fans. That, however, can’t influence how they do their job.
“It is important for the off-ice officials to remain as neutral figures for the benefit of the on-ice officials, the home team and the visiting team in helping to maintain a quality and entertaining product on the ice,” says Gerry Bergen.
Several members of the crew also work the majority of the Mintos games and Elder Bergen has been a mainstay with the A&W Bears for the past seven years meaning there are a lot of nights in the winter when any one of the off-ice officials group can be found at the Art Hauser Centre doing what they love to do.
And, the fans and teams thank them for that.