Father, son patrol the ice together in Sparta

'Behind The Stripes' - The Story of Tom and Matt Hinz

Winter of 2015 marks season five of high school hockey officiating for the Hinz boys. This time of year they see a lot of each other. Four nights a week patrolling the ice, for who they like to call, the best team around.

“Having a good attitude is important,” said Matt Hinz. “You have to be positive right off the bat. Treat the players and coaches with respect, and hopefully you will get it back.”

And most times, getting the bench generals to keep quiet is not easy.

“They are asking you, why you didn’t call it,” said Matt Hinz. “It is like, coach we are only human.”

“For any penalty, if we do not see a call we can’t call it,” said Tom Hinz. “We are not perfect, and the pros are not either. Plus, they have a lot of money and instant replay.”

Ice time together this new year comes with heavy hearts for the Hinz family.

“With my dad passing, you think about the mortality of it,” said Tom Hinz. “It is special to get out and do this stuff with your child. Not many people get to do it. He is my best friend.”

For a hockey ref, hard times in the world outside of the rink fade during the national anthem. A game is about to start. And after puck drop, who knows what is next?

In between period, hockey refs everywhere head to a room that is sacred across the sport. It is not the Ritz-Carleton by any means, but nonetheless a vault of the best stories the sport has produced.

“We say and do a lot of things that we probably would not do out there,” said Tom Hinz. “But most of all we have fun. You probably heard some of the comments that were just out there on the rink. In here this is just us.”

So the question I was left with: Why do the Hinz boys put up with it?

“It is special to do a sport that you love, with a person you love,” said Tom Hinz. “It really is that simple.”