The NHL's newest referee is a 31-year-old native of Albuquerque, N.M., who learned to skate in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Meet Mark Lemelin, who worked his first NHL game Monday at Nassau Coliseum alongside veteran official Dennis LaRue and linesmen Greg Devorski and Brian Mach.
The NHL's newest referee, 31-year-old Mark Lemelin, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., learned to skate in Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Getty Images)
"My dad was originally from Sherbrooke [Quebec] and we were hockey fans growing up," Lemelin told NHL.com before the game between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. "But I actually learned how to skate in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [My dad] was over there in the military and then working for a U.S.-based communications company. I skated over in the king's rink in Riyadh."
Lemelin laughs as he retells the story because the reaction is always the same:
Huh, come again?
"That about covers it for now," he responds, smiling.
Lemelin started his professional career in the United States Hockey League. He jumped to the Central Hockey League in Texas before moving to Hartford to start working games in the American Hockey League three years ago.