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Officials Spotlight: First-year Hockey Manitoba officials share their experiences

by Ezra Ginsburg  |  June 8, 2020 11:00 am

WINNIPEG, Man. – Each year, Hockey Manitoba welcomes in a new wave of young first-year, Level 1 officials who ensure that the rules of hockey are enforced and that the game is played fairly. We asked Referee-in-Chiefs to nominate promising first-year officials to share their experiences to help other young officials as well as to inspire prospective incoming officials who may be interested in obtaining their Level 1 certification.

Zachary Hamilton, Winnipeg, 13 years old

How many games did you officiate this year and what level?

I refereed 49 games. I did a lot of house league games and Novice games. Also all levels     up to Atom A2 and A3. The highest level I did was two Atom A1 games at the Warhawk tournament.

What are some of the challenges you might have faced this year?

I felt that because I am shorter, and younger, some coaches tried to take advantage of that. I had to learn to hold my ground regardless of what the coaches were saying to me. One coach in particular was pretty mouthy. I was lucky I was partnered with an experienced official who was able to control the situation easily.

Do you have any interesting stories from this season?

One game I had a parent from one of the teams playing an oboe every time his kids team touched the puck, scored a goal and in between periods. It was funny. It brought another element to the game I had never heard before. I don’t think oboes should be allowed in hockey rinks.  LOL.

The very first penalty I called I totally screwed up. It was a slash near the net which negated a good scoring chance. It was a delayed penalty. By the time the offending team got possession of the puck,  I totally forgot who it was against.  I pointed to #4, who looked at me and said, “Me?  I just got on the ice!”  I didn’t know what to do.  So I skated over to the coach and said, “Coach, it’s my second game. I haven’t slightest idea what I’m doing.”

All he said was, “Well, OK then.”   And we continued with the game.  I didn’t screw up a call for the rest of the season.

What type of officials mentorship did you receive this year?

Mike Fedak is a fantastic mentor.  I refereed with him at the Warhawk Tournament.  I learned a lot that tournament. One game was a playoff game that went into an overtime shoot-out.  That was really exciting.

Any advice you would give to some new officials next season?

You will be really nervous your first game but try not to let the people see that. And you will learn something from every game you ref. The more you ref, the more you learn. Dress warm. Communicate with your referee partner.   When you make calls, be loud so people can hear you. At the beginning of the year, I practiced making calls prior to the game. Even if a house league or novice game is really boring, make it look like you are really into it. The mentors see that and you will get more games.


Heidi Danners, Wawanesa, 12 years old

How many games did you officiate this year and what level?

I’ve reffed six games in total.  This includes two Novice and four Atom Girls games.

What are some of the challenges you might have faced this year?

At the beginning of the year I struggled with seeing and calling offsides.  But I continued to call them, and as I called more, it came to me much easier than it had been in the beginning.

Do you have any interesting stories from this season?

Being the only girl ref in Wawanesa, it was an honour to be asked to ref the Atom Girls team.  And even better, my little sister was on that team. Plus, during one of the girls games that I reffed, my Dad was my mentor on the ice. So on that ice all at once was me, my sister and my Dad!

While reffing my first Atom Girls game, the visiting team’s coach had to be thrown out of the game by the mentor.  The mentor on the ice then explained what happened, preparing me if this should happen again.

What type of officials mentorship did you receive this year?

We are very lucky that in Wawanesa we have amazing mentors, including one who was my Dad!  I received mentorship at my first Novice game, but not my second. And for the Atom games, a mentor helped me during 3 of those. For my last mentored game, the mentor helped us for the first two periods then watched from the time box for the third period, sometimes giving advice at the whistles.

Any advice you would give to some new officials next season?

All I would say is, don’t be afraid to call penalties! And that blowing you’re whistle too loud isn’t a thing!


Cayman Mushie, Winnipeg, 12 years old

How many games did you officiate this year and what level?

This year I officiated 12 Novice hockey games.

What are some of the challenges you might have faced this year?

Having to report the goals in Novice games could be difficult, as with no face-offs the game keeps moving quickly and there is not always a lot of time to do so.

Do you have any interesting stories from this season?

I officiated three games in a Novice tournament that were very memorable, not because of on-ice treatment, but because we were treated so well off of the ice. The ref coordinator baked homemade cookies for us, and brought them warm out of the oven!! There was also unlimited hot chocolate available for us between games. All of the refs were treated very well at this tournament.

What type of officials mentorship did you receive this year?

This year Brad Larocque mentored my first two games. He was very helpful with telling me where a ref should be on the ice during the games. He also encouraged me not to hesitate to make calls when I saw an infraction. After I was comfortable to be on the ice by myself, Brad was still at a lot of games to help me between periods and congratulate me for my efforts. Brad Larocque is an awesome mentor and referee!

Any advice you would give to some new officials next season?

Don’t be afraid to make calls. If you see something, you have to be quick to blow the whistle and make the call!


Kate Bowen, Winnipeg, 14 years old

How many games did you officiate this year and what level?

I officiated 22 games this season. The levels varied from Novice A1 to Peewee A2.

What are some of the challenges you might have faced this year?

The hardest part about reffing as a girl is the intimidation. There are two or three other female refs in my division and it was hard being the only girl on the ice for the majority of the time.

Do you have any interesting stories from this season?

I was officiating 10-year-olds and I am a small girl so the majority of the kids were bigger than me. It was my first 10-year-old game and I was super nervous. About four or five boys knocked each other off their own feet and then took me down as well. It was very embarrassing.

What type of officials mentorship did you receive this year?

I did receive lots of mentorship and help from older officials this year. It was a total lifesaver for me!

Any advice you would give to some new officials next season?

Some advice for first year officials is just be confident. Once you make a decision, stick to it. Being indecisive doesn’t get you anywhere but in trouble.

Please click here for more information about becoming a New Official.


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