Tonight, referee Conor O’Donnell will be working his first NHL Regular Season game at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL when the Florida Panthers will be hosting the New Jersey Devils. He will be joined on the ice by fellow referee Dean Morton while linesmen Derek Nansen and Ryan Daisy will be completing the officiating crew.
O’Donnell, a Hamilton, Ontario native grew up playing hockey dreaming of making the NHL as a player. The former forward played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with Brampton, Guelph and most memorably with the 2009 Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires. Once his junior days were over he used his OHL education fund to attend Nipissing University where he played four seasons (2010-2014) for the Lakers earning OUA All Star honours in his final two seasons. Following his University career Conor spent the following two seasons playing pro hockey overseas in Germany (Heilbronn) and France (Lyon) before returning to North America where he joined the Colorado Eagles (ECHL) for their 2016-2017 season. O’Donnell finished out the 2016-2017 season as a member of the Stoney Creek Generals (Senior A); making it to the 2017 Allan Cup Tournament in Bouctouche, NB. He was invited that summer to attend the NHL Officiating Combine in Buffalo, NY. His former University coach Mike McParland, had encouraged him to keep an officiating career in mind during his University days and he decided to accept the invitation. His performance at the combine made a great impression on the NHL recruiting staff and he soon found himself working games in the AHL as a referee. He spent the 2017-18 season working on his new craft in the American Hockey League before returning to the NHL Officiating Combine the following summer (2018) where he was offered a minor league referee contract by the NHL.
The NHLOA and its members would like to congratulate Conor O’Donnell on his first NHL game and wish him a long and successful career.