DETROIT (WWJ) – It may be hard to believe, but there’s a shortage of hockey referees in recreational leagues in Michigan.

Russ Eidenberger, USA Hockey Referee in Chief, says the shortage is affecting games statewide, but it’s especially bad in the Upper Peninsula.

“Places like in the UP, we’ve really, really had to work hard in trying to get them officials. You know, it was almost to the point where they literally couldn’t have games because we had no officiating to cover their games for them,” Eidenberger told WWJ’s Beth Fisher.

Eidenberger, says they’re struggling to get referees for all ages, from kids to adults, because of a variety of factors.

“The registration process is quite in-depth,” he said. “It’s a big commitment. You don’t just sign up and strap the skates on and buy a whistle and hit the ice. It takes a commitment to just become a registered official with USA Hockey.”

There’s no minimum or maximum ages for officials, and refs can make up to $30 an hour. Applicants must register online, pass an open book exam, complete an officiating seminar, complete an online education curriculum and complete a SafeSport training course. Registration fees range from $35 to $90 (depending on level).

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