by Don Scott
Hershey native Bob Goodman did his residency at Hershey Medical Center and is now an anesthesiologist at Harrisburg Hospital. That would be his day job, but for the last three decades he has also been an American Hockey League linesman.
Goodman’s pre-linesman career started when he played for the Hershey Jr. Bears at the age of 15. He took up the whistle calling games in the Squirt House League on the outside rink behind Hersheypark Arena.
“I got into the AHL when Randy Waybright approached me about considering it,” said Goodman. “Then I talked to Frank Mathers, who then turned my name into the league,” he said about his advancing into the pro game. “The league had a camp for us that year in New Haven for all the guys trying to break into the league, but they’ve had a few other camps over the years.
When questioned about how he was able, all these years, to do his medical job and still be available for the hockey assignments, he replied, “The league has been awesome about working with all of the officials around our full-time jobs. About a month ahead of time, I get an email about the future schedule so I go to my calendar to check games that might conflict with my work schedule and block those out. For me, I need to take post-call days or weekends when I’m not on call, so I know I’ll be able to make the games.
“A bunch of the guys are firemen or police officers and they have to do the same thing. Some of them do have jobs that are very accommodating, but it is still pretty much the same thing. I only work games in Wilkes-Barre, Allentown and Hershey, so I only have to check those three rinks to setup my schedule. Binghamton is close enough but they have enough guys in that area, so I don’t need to make that trip.”
Officiating AHL games is not without its challenges.
“One of the many jobs that a linesman is responsible for is separating players who, shall we say, have a difference of opinion that often turns into a physical encounter,” said Goodman. “The Covid-19 ‘rules’ are keep a six-foot distance between individuals, which is certainly not the way hockey is played, so someone has to step in and separate the combatants. What I’m hearing from the leagues is that they want to do everything to make sure the players, officials and staff, are taken into consideration in order to put the product back on the ice and play the game.
“I really don’t know what to say about the fighting, that’s certainly going to happen at some point,” Goodman added. “I just don’t really have an answer for you other than that. I’m sure they are considering all options on everything you could possibly think of, to come up with the best scenario. There are so many things like states having rules that can be applied in one location but not others and actually just sitting on the bench isn’t six feet apart.”
At this point, the future is unknown.
“No one truly knows, including the experts, who can’t predict what will happen,” said Goodman. “The public and the players all have a different level of concern and awareness of what is happening.”
When it was pointed out that one of the new rules for hockey and baseball is no more spitting, Goodman jumped on that suggesting, “Good thing Gaylord Perry isn’t still around.”
Goodman worked the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic at Giant Center, the 2007-08 and 2009-10 Calder Cup Finals and the AHL outdoor games at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park and the two in Hersheypark Stadium. He was also named the 2012-13 recipient of the AHL’s Michael Condon Memorial Award.
He is planning on being ready to go for another season, but admitted he has no more idea if, or when, that will be, or what the ramifications will be when they do start.
“Actually they have just put together their brain trust,” he said, “but I do know they want to do everything they can to have a season. But what that will be, nobody knows.”
Reprinted with permission from the Hummelstown (Pa.) Sun