COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – While the National Collegiate Hockey Conference already honors its student-athletes and coaches after each season, the NCHC will now recognize one official following each season with the creation of the Mark Rudolph Officiating Achievement Award, NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton announced Tuesday.
The award will be handed out annually and presented to a member of the NCHC officiating staff, be it a referee, linesman or supervisor, who through his actions, commitment, dedication, leadership and professionalism, has achieved a distinguished accomplishment that has significantly enhanced the NCHC and its officiating program both on and off the ice.
"It is an honor for the conference office to use Mark's name in recognizing someone annually from our officiating staff. It is certainly fitting for someone who has impacted several levels of hockey, including the NCAA for many years,” Fenton said. “Our conference office takes a tremendous amount of pride in our officiating program and this award is a reflection of our commitment to recognize one of the best on an annual basis."
The NCHC’s Officiating Achievement Award has been named in honor of Mark Rudolph, a long-time official and distinguished administrator who resides in Colorado Springs, Colo. In 1982, Rudolph relocated from Buffalo, N.Y. to Colorado Springs for an employment opportunity that would change the complexion of American officiating forever. He pioneered the development of USA Hockey’s National Officiating Program – a program that served over 13,000 amateur officials during his 12 years of service.
Rudolph established the elite USA Hockey summer officiating camps, which accelerated the officiating careers of many, while developing and overseeing the program’s relationships with both the National Hockey League (NHL) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). He also created and implemented USA Hockey’s District Officiating Seminars, which placed the elite summer camp experience into backyards across the country so more officials could benefit from that “camp experience.”
In addition, Rudolph authored the original USA Hockey officiating manuals, which provided thousands of American officials with the basic fundamentals of officiating. The USA Hockey Officiating Program continues to benefit from the foundation that Rudolph built so many years ago.
Rudolph, who officiated NCAA Division I collegiate hockey for over 10 seasons, also displayed his on-ice officiating talents in the International Hockey League (IHL), the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Atlantic Coast Hockey League (currently ECHL). Rudolph served as a Supervisor of Officials for the NHL from 1991-1997 and for the IIHF from 1988-97, as well.
Over the course of his officiating career, Rudolph worked quietly and tirelessly to improve ice hockey officiating at every level in the United States. In recognition of his many years of service to the officiating community, combined with his countless accomplishments as an official and administrator, the NCHC has dedicated its officiating award in Rudolph’s name to permanently recognize and honor his contributions.
“I’ve never been recognized at the national level in the past. For the NCHC to recognize my efforts is truly special and a huge honor that means everything to me,” Rudolph remarked. “I’m proud when I receive unexpected emails or phone calls from officials that I haven’t spoken with for many years – guys who started at the grass-root level. When they express their appreciation and explain how instrumental I was in their careers, it’s very special and I realize that all of the hard work was worth it.”
Rudolph is credited with advancing hundreds of officials to higher levels of hockey, including junior, collegiate, international and professional.
The inaugural winner of the award for the 2013-14 season will be announced this September at one of the NCHC’s three officiating camps. The award will then be annually presented to the previous year’s winner at the next season’s officiating camps. Any member of the officiating staff may nominate one individual per year for the award, which will then be selected by NCHC Director of Officiating Don Adam and NCHC Director of Hockey Operations Joe Novak.
The award winner will receive a plaque commemorating his achievement, along with a “referee moment” to document his accomplishment.