Officiating is a thankless job, but without it, the game can’t happen. That’s where people like Erika Greenen come in.
Greenen, who is in her second season of officiating youth hockey games through USA Hockey, was invited to participate in the NHL Officials Shadowing Program as part of USA Hockey Weekend Across America.
After playing the game through her youth days, followed by a collegiate stint at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Greenen moved to Tennessee for an internship, then stayed for a career. But she missed the game, and donning the stripes was a way for her to get back on the ice.
“It’s just a different view of the game,” Greenen said of her transition from carrying a stick to a whistle. “It’s fun to still be in the game in a way. I can’t play anymore, so it’s learning all the rules and everything and interpretations. I’m still growing in the game, which I would’ve thought after playing, I would know all of the rules, but [it’s different].”
Greenen met with the NHL officiating crew prior to the Nashville Predators hosting the Los Angeles Kings in February, getting the opportunity to ask questions of the officials and find out how they eventually reached the NHL level.
“They made it fun and it was nice to meet them,” Greenen said. “If you’re watching the game, refs get a bad rap, but they’re really not bad guys and it’s a hard job.”
“Hopefully, it would be cool for them to come in and say hello to us,” referee Chris Rooney said of meeting young officials. “If they had any questions, we could answer them or inspire them to try to make it to the next level.”
Greenen does hope to advance through the ranks, as she did during her playing career.
“The goal is to grow and I played in college, so it’d be cool to maybe ref in college, college games or maybe international games,” Greenen said. “The sky’s the limit, it's just applying myself and seeing where it goes.”