What is an Impact Call?
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Understanding the game situation so as to make “impact calls” is another important aspect of refereeing. While we stress not to call trivial penalties, as referees it is important to assert ourselves before the game gets too loose and out of control.
If you have good hockey sense, you should be able to tell when the players are crossing the line and beginning to make plays that could be dangerous. As officials, we need to sense this.
When we have this sensation, we need to make impact calls which settle the game down. For example, if the game is getting overly chippy, you might call a borderline cross-check or roughing. The most common example that you will see from referees in creating impact calls is in scrums after the whistles. Nothing good will come out of a scrum, and they can escalate quickly.
If, as referees, we sense that scrums are becoming common after most whistles, a quick penalty call can be a good solution. What is important in these situations is to take only one player, usually the player that started the scrum. The reason is because if you take a player from each team to the box, then there is no incentive to stop for either team, since the outcome is even. However, if you take one player to the box after a scrum, soon the teams will get the message, and the scrums will stop quickly.