With all the excitement of watching a hockey game, it’s easy to forget there’s a third time on the ice for every game.
They don’t score any goals, nor do they make the big save or even get a break in the action.
They usually don’t get enough credit for the good work they do, but people are on them the second they feel a mistake is made.
They’re referees, and they have just as important a role to play in any game as the players do.
Referees work hard night in and night out to earn their stripes, though their efforts aren’t always recognized in the proper light.
Still, there are more opportunities for young referees to work at a high level in today’s game, especially female referees.
Mary McKinnon, a level four Hockey Canada official from Summerside, P.E.I., just completed her first national championship as a referee at the 2012 Esso Cup.
She started out as a referee in her teens, but put it on the backburner to pursue hockey.
After finishing her playing career at Niagara University, McKinnon said she tried continuing her involvement in hockey off the ice, but it just wasn’t the same.
“I really missed being on the ice, being out there and involved with the play,” she said.
“I remembered back to when I was officiating before-hand, and so I got all the gear, got back into it, and I was officiating in the Challenge Cup the next year.”
As one of the more experienced officials at the tournament, McKinnon told some of her younger counterparts to make sure they don’t get too hyped up for each game.
“I told them to focus more on seeing yourself in the right positions and making the right calls,” McKinnon said.
Among the young female officials at the Esso Cup was Nikki MacEwen, a level three Hockey Canada official from the North River Minor Hockey Association.
MacEwen was just starting out as a referee when she was invited to attend a program for aspiring referees. (Note: I can’t remember the name of the program, so you may need to do an edit here.)
MacEwen said she learned a lot from the older, more experienced officials at the camp.
“They really took me under their wing, and I just learned as much as I could from them,” MacEwen said.
She admitted to being nervous when she found out she would be working at the Esso Cup.
“It was obviously a good feeling, but I was also nervous to be working something this big for the first time.”
Both McKinnon and MacEwen agreed about adrenaline flowing prior to starting a game, but both added it was easy to get relaxed.
“It’s obviously pumping before the game, but once you get into the game a bit, you start to calm down,” MacEwen said.