Black and White Doing It Right

Contributed by: Sean Boulerice

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators game on February 13th might be just another match on a long NHL schedule but to five young South Dundas Minor Hockey officials it was a night that they aren’t ever going to forget!  These aspiring referees and their family members were guests of the four man crew (Kyle Rehman, Carter Sandlak, Steve Barton, Derek Nansen) that worked the game at the Canadian Tire Centre that evening.

The evening was coordinated by NHL linesman Derek Nansen and former AHL/OHL referee Sean Boulerice, lifetime friends dating back to their days working Junior A hockey together in the late 80’s and 90’s.  Boulerice, a former South Dundas resident is mentoring these new officials as they embark on their own refereeing careers, and it was an opportunity to offer them a chance to see firsthand what goes on behind the scenes in an NHL setting.

There are only two officials from the local hockey branch (Hockey Eastern Ontario) that are currently working in the National Hockey League (Barton from Vankleek Hill and Nansen from Kanata) and it just so happened that they were both assigned to this game! As an added bonus, when the boys got down to the room, they also got to meet retired NHL official Marc Joannette who supervised the game as well as Dave Baker who is the Director of NHL Off-Ice Officials for the entire league.  

Rehman, Sandlak, Barton and Nansen presented the young officials with a bunch of swag from the National Hockey League Officials Association and generously spent close to an hour answering their questions and providing helpful tips for these excited young boys.  They answered questions about how they started in the officiating business, travel, dressing rooms, game day routines, pre-game workouts, family and numerous questions about current NHL players.

It’s not often that fans attend games to cheer on the officiating crew but for that night in Section 327, there were a handful of kids doing just that!  The South Dundas Minor Hockey Association would like to thank the NHLOA and this crew for providing such an exhilarating experience for these young officials and their families and for giving back to kids with a passion and dream of maybe someday dawning a jersey of their own in the National Hockey League!