Meet the 2018 candidates

Here are your candidates for the 2018 IHOA Board of Directors election:


I was raised playing hockey in the state for various teams, from the Sabres to Naperville North to Team Illinois.  After my Illinois playing career, I attended college out of state where I took up officiating. Over my 19 season career, officiating has provided me with some amazing opportunities: numerous USAH National Championships, 4 NCAA Frozen Fours, 10 IIHF World Championships, and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. It has been an amazing rollercoaster ride that I wouldn’t trade for anything, but now it is time to help others achieve their goals.

I have been a member of IHOA since 2006 and a member of the IHOA Board of Directors for 9 years.  Over this time I have served our membership in various ways. My purpose as an IHOA board member has always been, and will continue to be, to provide opportunities for my fellow officials through development and education.  My passion is in education- I love to teach and provide a low key atmosphere for officials to collaborate and learn to improve their skills.  I hope to continue working with you, our membership, toward improving our community as a whole.  Thank you for this opportunity!


My name is Jameson Gronert. I’m 34, married (Elenna) with 3 kids (Kristina, Joshua and Arya), and I work in project management for a small IT consulting company based out of Chicago called FlexManage. I also contract out in the summers to various organizations as a power skating coach. I grew up playing hockey for the Chargers, Palatine High School and DePaul University. After playing a few years of adult league, I found officiating and immediately fell in love with the job. That was 12 seasons ago and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to work at nearly every level of the game from the American Hockey League on down.

I was first elected to the IHOA Board of Directors in 2012 and am now running for my third term. During my tenure I have worked on the Nomination Committee, volunteered with Erin Blair in our Development Program teaching power skating, leading classrooms, evaluations etc…and have also served as the IHOA Registrar for the last 3 seasons (it’s only been 3 years???).

In addition to my registrar responsibilities, this past season I was appointed to a more formal role in development, becoming Co-Chair of the Development Program alongside Erin. We led a development staff that included Joe Guzzardi, Brad Baumruck and Nick West (with additional help from a dozen others) as we worked to expand and improve different aspects of the program. As a staff, we were able to significantly increase the number of evaluations and mentoring opportunities of this years’ participants and we offered several new development opportunities to our membership with the creation of the Level 1 Jamborees and 3-Official Boot camps.

If I am reelected, I hope to continue to serve as registrar and will remain deeply involved in the development of our officials.

I thank you for your consideration.

Jameson Gronert


My name is Carl Sassolino and I am running for re-election for the IHOA Board of Directors. I have been on the Board of Directors for the last 8 years. During that time I have been involved on the following committees: Evaluation, Mentoring, Seminar Coordinator, and Performance Education and Development to name a few. While working on these committees it has been important to me to reach out and listen to the membership on how we could best help in each of these areas. One of the best examples is in regards to our seminars. We do have to follow guidelines from USA Hockey but, with the help of AHAI and IHOA, we were able to tweak areas. One such area: our on-ice sessions; make them more about the areas you have suggested that we concentrate on. We no longer make them a once a year power skate but rather help all levels work on and understand areas such as positioning, anticipation, and game management. I am very proud to say that we have made some vast improvements with the ideas from our membership on how we could best help all levels of officials in regards to our seminars while still working under the USA guidelines sent to us every year. This year we are working on classroom presentations to include more videos for a real time question and answer section.

As for Mentoring, I have worked hard for it to become one of the model programs in all of USA Hockey across the country. We have been able to help well over 175 officials on over 225 games this past year. It’s not the numbers that are important but the confidence we have been able to give these brand new officials to make them stronger and better officials.

Even though we as a board have made the improvements mentioned above I don’t believe we are fully where we need to be and if re-elected I will continue to work hard in making our programs the best in the country and set the standards for all of USA Hockey.

Thank you.

Carl Sassolino

STEVE RICKARD: Hello. My name is Steven Rickard and I am running for election for the IHOA Board of Directors. I have been an official for the past eight years. When I started officiating, I was helped by many fellow officials and programs. The Evaluations, General Development Program and Advanced Development Programs helped mold me into the official I am today. I am committed to giving back to the programs IHOA supports. For the past five years I have been involved in the following programs: General Development, Evaluation, Mentor, and Assistant Seminar Instructor. I believe it’s important to continue with these programs and make them better for our future officials. If I am elected, I will work hard to make sure these programs get better and continue to set the standard for USA hockey. Thank you for your support.

CRAIG WELKER: I have been an IHOA member for over 25 years and had the privilege to serve on the board for well over a decade.  As an official I have worked all levels of hockey from youth, Junior A, Minor Pro, and NCAA D1.  While serving on the board, I have been involved with the development program, website, and seminars.  Currently, I am assisting with seminar coordination and also serve on the AHAI committee where I manage the payroll for all officials.  I thank you for allowing me to serve in the past and look for your vote this May.

BRIAN DeSCHEPPER: My name is Brian DeSchepper and I have been an ice hockey official for 28 years.  I live in Gibson City, have three children (one of whom plays at ISU), and I am currently the scheduler for Peoria Youth Hockey, ISU, and Bradley.
Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate enough to work with a number of great people who gave more than their share to the development of our officials, and I am hoping to carry on in their footsteps as a representative for our downstate officials.   Thank you in advance for your consideration!

BOB PAGANI: My name is Bob Pagani, and I have accepted a nomination to run for the IHOA Board of Directors. I am 35 years old, I grew up on the north side of the City, although, I am currently living in the South Suburb of Beecher. I am a Union Electrician and I understand and believe in the concept of doing what is good for everyone, not just a few! I grew up playing travel hockey in Skokie, and continued on to play a year of Junior Hockey. When I was 10 years old I decided to try officiating and I have been ever since. On the officiating side, I was lucky enough to be in IHOA’s original Advanced Officials Program. That led to skating Juniors, College and Pro hockey which I have been skating since. Besides skating, I have been helping instruct seminars for the past 15 years. I was also on the first Performance and Development (now the Performance, Education, and Development (PED)) committee. I currently help out with both the General and Advanced Officiating Development Program, and I am one of the IHOA evaluators. Outside of IHOA, I was the Director of Officials for the AAHL, now the FHL. I currently schedule officials for the USPHL. My goals being on the IHOA Board of Directors: to continue giving officials opportunities to advance to the next level and to help figure out how to retain new officials to continue officiating and not quit!