A top high school hockey official is unhappy about a referee who worked a state tournament semifinal game in which he had a family connection to one of the schools.
Mark Arriola, one of four officials on the ice for Friday’s Class 1A semifinal game between Warroad and St. Paul United, is married to an employee at Visitation. The Mendota Heights private school is one of two schools with players on the St. Paul United co-op team.
St. Paul United defeated Warroad 4-3 at Xcel Energy Center on the strength of three power-play goals. Nine penalties were called on the Warriors, while St. Paul United was called for two.
Bill Kronschnabel, coordinator of hockey officials for the Minnesota State High School League, said after the game that Arriola should not have been assigned to work it.
“If I would have known before the game, he would not have been on that game,” said Kronschnabel, who found out during the second period. “It’s our policy not to put officials on games if there is even the appearance of conflict. I’m not real happy.”
Asked whether he thought the integrity of the semifinal game was compromised, Kronschnabel said, “No, I don’t.”
Arriola, a women’s college hockey official assigned to his first state tournament, directed questions to Kronschnabel. He worked Thursday’s late Class 2A quarterfinal game before he received his Friday morning assignment. The responsibility to flag a potential conflict was Arriola’s, Kronschnabel said.
“It should be common sense but maybe he was wrapped up in being here and didn’t think about it,” Kronschnabel said.
Kronschnabel spoke with Arriola after Friday’s game.
“He feels bad,” Kronschnabel said. “I don’t think he did it on purpose.”
In what was a physical game on both sides, Warroad allowed three power-play goals.
“I thought they went hard on our goaltender when our goaltender had the puck covered,” coach Dave Marvin said. “Whatever. We stood up for our goaltender little bit. We took too many (penalties). Whatever. It’s the high school league so I have to be positive and sportsmanlike, right?”
Hearing the news about the referee further riled Marvin.
“It’s a shame,’’ he said. “I think all the penalties took away from a really good game.”