Tournament brings whistle-blowers to town - Mar. 12, 2014
Next week’s “Day of Champions” area league tournament will bring some of the top referees from St. Stephen to Sussex to oversee final games of every level of hockey from atom to midget. Ironically, Jeremy Peters, one of the best youth officials in the province, will not be available due to commitments to the SSHS varsity team.
The region’s Day of Champions, which represents the championships for minor hockey associations from St. Stephen to Sussex, will in one week’s time come to the Border Area Community Arena.
The event will attract 52 teams, of all levels from atom to midget: given an estimated 16-17 players per team, that rounds out to about 850 players coming to St. Stephen. Some 40-50 others will also come to the region, skates in tow: but instead of sticks they will bring whistles.
Co-ordinating the officials for such an event falls to the region’s officials supervisor, Bob Coates.
Each of the associations forming the southwestern hockey circuit will nominate three to five of their best officials to work the Day of Champions. Those individuals will be matched to games of their capacity, meaning that at the atom level, 14- or 15-year olds may be working lines and a 16- or 17-year old working as the referee.
“As we move up the ladder, we always have adults on the ice,” said Coates, and the bantam and midget age groups will feature the four-official system, which assigns two referees to those games.
While some of the players set to tangle in championship games through the four days of hockey at the Day of Champions may hope to be noticed by a scout for a higher-level team, to some degree, the officials on the ice have already been noticed: that’s why they’ll be here, Coates noted.
Among officials, playoff assignments – especially league and provincial finals – are considered an honour.
The province has a program aimed at identifying talented referees and lines officials and providing them accelerated training in a four-to-five-year program.
“This year, we have 30 officials we identified into the program of excellence,” Coates said, of entrants into the provincial program.
One of those lies within the region: St. Stephen High School Grade 12 student Jeremy Peters. Ironically, Peters may not be available for use during the Day of Champions – the youth is a defenceman on the SSHS boys hockey team, and may be playing in the provincial championships elsewhere.
Coates heaps high praise on the young man, which leads to a natural question: when the new junior A hockey team comes here, will any local officials take to the ice?
That’s not a question Coates can answer. While Adam Harris, a level 5 official, is qualified to officiate at the junior A level, the Maritime Hockey League has a pool of officials who travel throughout the three provinces where league teams play.
“You bring the crews in that you need to match the level of hockey that you’re playing,” stated Coates.
Peters isn’t at that level yet – but may be in the future, said Coates.
“Everyone has a top end that they’re going to reach, and Mr. Peters, he hasn’t reached that. He has potential to move on. “It will be up to his desire as he tracks his way through.”