Have you ever wondered how NHL officials become NHL officials? On Friday, March 18th, nine lucky minor hockey referees had the chance to ask NHL officials just that during the second annual BC Hockey Officials Night.
Much attention in minor hockey is focused on players and coaches, but officials are a crucial part of the game. Minor hockey refs between the ages of 13 and 17 were invited to enter a BC Hockey contest by submitting a 300 word essay on the topic of, “What the BC Hockey officiating program could do to ensure referees stay involved in the game.”
The nine contest winners travelled to Rogers Arena from across the province, including Sicamous, Courtenay, Gibson, Parksville, and Richmond. They were hosted by BC Hockey Referee-in-Chief, Rob Fryer, and Female Officiating Coordinator, Willy Saari who both have extensive refereeing experience. The group was treated to a Q & A session with four veteran NHL officials: referees Kelly Sutherland and Dean Morton, and linesmen Vaughan Rody and Brian Murphy.
The NHL officials embraced the opportunity to share their experience and wisdom with the up-and-comers. The enthusiasm of the minor hockey refs and their parents was obvious and they asked the NHL officials, Fryer, and Saari many great questions. The group shared stories and ideas about how to improve the resources available to developing referees.
When game-time approached, the minor hockey guests went to their seats to watch the NHL officials in action as the Canucks took on the Phoenix Coyotes. The evening was a resounding success and fostered support and camaraderie between minor hockey officials, BC Hockey, and the NHL.