Guest writer: Brendan Parsons on scorekeeping

The scorer's box, looking down on the Ghetto's ice. @ Oakleigh.

The scorer’s box, looking down on the Ghetto’s ice. @ Oakleigh.

A change of gear today. Ever wondered who is operating the scoreboard and compiling the teamsheet at any given game? Even in Rec D, summer league, in Melbourne, a bunch of tireless almost-volunteers work to make it happen – and we are damn grateful. (I’ve only been in there long enough to feel sheepish that I don’t help more.)

A big thanks to Brendan Parsons for taking us behind the glass, ice-side, to explain the magic.

Hockey scoring: not for the faint-hearted

By Brendan Parsons


“What was that?”

“I didn’t see! Get ready whatever it is.”

“What number?”

“Use double zero, just make sure you get the two in right, we can fix it after.”

“I’m on it.”

“Hey can I –“

“Shut up!  Hold on a second – watch the ice – anything coming in on the radio?”

“No…  OK, we’re good.”


“Fourteen twenty seven.”

Radio hisses

“Hey, you there?”

“Yep, what was it?”

“Fourteen, tripping, two minutes.”

“Ok, got it.”

“Sorted – shot on – two shots, home.”

The score box at Oakleigh ice rink is nothing short of parody of a TV newsroom– but without the Sorkinesque hallway walking.  Scraps of paper litter the eagles-nest perched high above the stands.  Aged, yellow control boxes operating the scoreboard and clock flash their analogue red LEDs alarmingly and intrusively.  Only the edges of the vintage, leather stools are used by the scorer and timekeeper; the scorebox is no place to sit in comfort despite its relative warmth.  Snacks and coffee sit safely away from the equipment, but close at hand for the occasional 20 second break.  The computer hums and grinds to process the demands of the byzantine excel spreadsheet.

This isn’t scoring a cricket match – an ice hockey game moves at the speed of the ref’s whistle (which is the speed of sound, so it’s pretty fast.)

With the growth of beer-league hockey in Melbourne, the league should not have been surprised by the massive response to their call for timekeepers and scorekeepers in the summer league.

I answered the call to give back to the league which I have been only taking from so far.  After volunteering, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a (modestly) paid gig. The pay nearly covers the cost of the non-kosher snacks (for wannabe hockey athletes at least) consumed within the box.

Working in the box has given me a new appreciation for the support structure required to play hockey, and the importance of doing things right; like wearing clear and consistent numbers on your uniform, handing in proper team sheets, and only playing registered players.  In a recent game, the numbers on one player’s back, arms and helmet didn’t match – and they wonder (and complain) how the ref may wrongly attribute a goal.

Rookies Rachael Hands and Lliam "Apollo" Patrick man the scorer's box during a Rookies v IBM social game.

Rookies Rachael Hands and Liam “Apollo” Patrick man the scorer’s box during a Rookies v IBM social game.

The box requires two people.  The time keeper is predominantly in charge of keeping the clock running, keeping the scoreboard up to date, displaying penalties and, at Oakleigh, controlling the walkie-talkie which serves as our only link to the ref.  The score keeper operates the flawlessly macro-ed score sheet.  Both need to watch and record all shots on goal – a call requiring consensus, as not every goalie’s ‘save’ is a shot on goal.*

You begin to appreciate the teams that play cleanly – minimizing penalties, playing around the opposition and not through them.  You notice the teams that continually lob pucks to the net, like a prisoner in solitary confinement with only a tennis ball.  You start to feel how each team constructs, and reconstructs, their lines through the game.  You see how goals and assists are not the golden metric against which to measure a player’s skill.

With all the sound and fury of a hockey game below you, from your cloistered, anonymous, impartial isolation, you can see the beauty of the game in its rarer moments. It’s a haven from the regular week; removed from quotidian mediocrity.  A Zen Koan, not requiring anything from you but the application of the rules. No hype, not fans; just the game itself.

But mostly, it’s a pleasing way to spend a Thursday night, or a lazy Sunday afternoon; watching hockey from a heated room.

*A shot is counted only if, with the goalie removed, it would have been a goal.  Brilliantly catching a puck that was not going straight into the net unfortunately does not count.

A final game sheet, as produced by the scorers from every official IHV game. Oh, wait, did I happen to pick one out where No. 4 (Nicko Place) got an assist and an unassisted goal? Wow, what are the odds?

A final game sheet, as produced by the scorers from every official IHV game. Oh, wait, did I happen to pick one out where No. 4 (Nicko Place) got an assist and an unassisted goal for the Interceptors? Wow, what are the odds?

Guest writer: Rachael Hands


Our latest guest writer is Rachael Hands, just coming off a nasty knee injury, queen of the pre-skate snacks and happily a new classmate of mine on Friday nights. This story makes me wince in all sorts of bad ways … and I fully intend to privately find out the identity of the “Melbourne Ice player” in question. Rachael, you’ve been warned.

Hi, I’m Rachael and I’m a basiphobic*.

By Rachael Hands

Hi, I’m Rachael and I’m a basiphobic*.

Like any good Rookie, I’m self-diagnosed of course… Oh, and according to, I’m also traumatophobic, which feeds into my basiphobia. This makes me more anxious and then ultimately leads to me falling on my butt during hockey lessons anyway!

Simply put, I’m attempting to be an ice hockey player with a pretty serious fear of falling over and hurting myself badly. Again.

Back in August 2011, on Tuesday the 16th to be precise, I was skating up and down the Henke rink at the Icehouse during a regular hockey lesson when CRUNCH! I hit the ice. Me being me when I fell, didn’t do things by halves either. I hit the ice very hard and very awkwardly with my knees taking all of the impact first. It was less than a split second after the initial crack of the protective gear meeting the ice that I heard the popping and crackling in my left knee, then felt this weird sucking sensation as I skidded with surprising grace (as if I meant to look like a falling tonne of bricks with arms and legs) on plastic shin guards (sans socks!) through centre ice. Having been rushed at full-tilt by a professional Melbourne Ice player I panicked, not trusting his ability to stop before he got to me; then I hesitated about getting out of his way so as not to hurt him and our chances of winning a back-to-back Goodall Trophy. The rather serious result of those normally inconsequential actions was little newbie me crashing onto the ice like a sack of potatoes. The bizarre noises and feeling in my knee joint was my Medial Collateral Ligament being torn clean in half.

That was in the first 12 minutes of the 60-minute lesson. I still had 48 minutes of ice time and I was damn well going to use them! I got up, adrenaline coursing through my veins, and with some kind of misguided steely resolve I laughed the fall off and the subsequent pain I was in to skate out the rest of the session. Admittedly when I look back on it, I didn’t just have a ‘lazy leg’ as I skated around that night, I actually couldn’t lift it. I couldn’t bend it and I didn’t do terribly much weight-bearing on it either. I glided through the rest of the session in a mass of throbbing agony. The following day (when the inside of my knee was almost the size of a grapefruit and purple) I took myself to see Nick M, my regular physio who has treated almost every injury I’ve ever obtained through the playing of sport. He had yet to see me for a hockey injury, even though I’d been in classes for a term and a bit and evidently doing well by my coordination standards! I don’t remember much of the session other than he lifted my bad leg up from the table and I cried like a baby because it hurt that much. He hadn’t even put any stress on the joint! Nick immediately ordered an MRI and it confirmed the worst-case scenario. My MCL was totally ruptured and would require the most intense rehabilitation and physiotherapy I had ever experienced in order to heal.

What followed, without giving you another blow-by-blow account, was five and a half months in a hinged leg brace, firstly locked dead straight for three months then little by little I was given a few degrees of flex in the knee joint until a second MRI revealed the knitting of the MCL was complete. After that, it was intense physical therapy (progressing from daily appointments to now once a week) to learn to reengage the MCL and the surrounding muscles correctly to prevent re-injury. I literally had to learn to walk before I could run, let alone skate! Which brings me back to my fears of falling over and hurting myself again.

I arrived at my (clearly very accurate) phobiæ diagnosis one ridiculously hot January afternoon in Nick M’s sweltering treatment room. I was being run through a series of stress tests on my knee to determine whether I was going to be able to return to skating in the foreseeable future. It dawned on me that as much as I had been bugging the indeterminably patient Nick to let me back out onto the ice since my ‘limbed bag of flour’ impression; I was actually (and very secretly) incredibly terrified of falling over and making the existing injury worse. So, like any good gen-y’er, I went straight home to google what the fear of falling was, coupled with a fear of injury and arrived at a mild case of basiphobia (a fear of walking and or falling down) and traumatophobia which is other wise known as the fear of significant injury.

I am happy to report to you, the readers of Nicko Place’s blog, that while my knee has healed to the point where my physio has begrudgingly given me his blessing to continue my hockey lessons and join a summer league team, my fear of falling and hurting myself gets more intense every week.

As the drills get harder, the edgework more extreme and the general pace of lessons increases, my fears escalate in an uncanny correlation. Since finally getting back onto the ice regularly in February of this year, I can see how far I’ve come. In a lesson at NLHA last week, I felt some complete control over my skating again. My legs were really solid underneath me and I loved every minute of it! I felt good on the ice and not like I was struggling as usual, but that pervasive nagging thought about falling and hurting myself so badly all over again kept eating away at me. For many hockey Rookies, the fear of falling and or hurting themselves disappears with confidence in their own abilities. For me though, it’s a struggle to talk myself into the fact that my knee can handle it. I still baulk at the superman/sliding drills or anything requiring me to put all of my weight on my ‘bad leg’ while it’s bent at any angle greater than straight. My coaches have been patient and very understanding but I sometimes wonder whether or not I can teach myself to ignore those feelings. So far though, such attempts have proven to be fruitless. Practising falling over on ice so I get used to it again requires discipline I just don’t (want to) have. I’d rather spend the precious little time for hockey I have available to me trying to gain some more of that elusive control on my outside edges, crossovers and joining the infamous Martin Kutek-led  ‘underpoosh’ revolution. Surely, if I practise those skills enough then I don’t need to think about forcing myself to fall over? I’ll be good enough not to, right? Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

But, I’ve resolved (very publicly today) that for the coming term (intermediate classes at the Icehouse in addition to another round at NLHA) I will not let my fears get the best of me. I will skate and if I fall, so be it. I won’t try to fight it and stay upright; I will just go with momentum, following the quickest route straight on to the ice (a mantra coach Joey Hughes likes to drill into me every week). The only thing for me to do in order to get over the irrationality and anxiety about falling and potential re-injury, is to bite the bullet and just trust myself and of course the work that Nick the Physio has done with my knee to get me back to a point where I CAN skate. I simply have to jump in, skates first and the fear of falling be damned. That, and remember to enjoy learning to map the shortest distance down on to the ice from wherever I may be on the rink!

An intense fear of jumping is called ‘catapedophobia’ by the way… I’m just saying! 😉

*well, sort of…