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Nhl Referee Assignments 2013 Ford

Another Maritimer has made his debut in the National Hockey League.

Last Thursday, a referee from Truro, N.S. officiated his first NHL game in Philadelphia.

“It was just the thrill of a lifetime,” says Jon McIsaac. “I mean, a little nervous at first, obviously, but it seemed to go away pretty quick, a lot quicker than I thought.”

McIsaac began refereeing when he was a teenager, along with his older brother Jamie.

“Like every kid growing up, I wanted to play in the NHL and it just happened that it didn’t work. I was playing split time between midget and junior when I was 15 when I started refereeing,” says McIsaac.

Fifteen years of hard work in the minors led to McIsaac getting the call for his first regular-season game in the NHL. The veteran crew treated him with champagne after the game.

Close to 20 friends and family members made the trip to Philadelphia to share in the experience.

“Of course I didn’t see the game, I just saw Jon doing his job, paid no attention to the hockey at all,” says McIsaac’s mother-in-law Colleen Pinkney.

McIsaac’s father Bill gets emotional when he thinks about his son’s magical night.

“It was very exciting,” he says. “I don’t think I seen any of the game for the first ten minutes, my eyes were right filled up.”

Exactly one year earlier, McIsaac’s biggest fan - his mother Joan - passed away.

“It switched the day around,” says McIsaac. “It went from a negative day in my life, to a very positive day. I think that is why I wasn’t so nervous on the ice as well. I think she was there helping me.”

McIsaac’s next NHL assignment is on December 16 and will have a special Nova Scotia connection. He will be officiating a game between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche – Nathan MacKinnon’s team – in Denver.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh

More Stories from Atlantic

The NHL has promoted six officials to full-time status with the league.  Referees Jon McIsaac, Kendrick Nicholson, and Garrett Rank will handle a full National Hockey League schedule for 2016-17 season. They’ll be joined by linesmen Shandor Alphonso, Devin Berg, and Brandon Gawryletz.  All six split time between the NHL and AHL last season


Jon McIsaac

McIsaac, 32, refereed 25 games in 2015-16, for a career total of 32. He worked his way up through Junior B, Junior A, and QMJHL before joining the Central Hockey League at age 25.   The Truro, Nova Scotia, native signed an NHL contract in 2012 and was assigned to the AHL.  He made his NHL debut on November 21, 2013, working a game between the Sabres and Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.  

“Consistency every night is important to me,” said McIsaac in 2014, about the skills necessary to become a full-time NHL referee. “I want to call a good game every time I step on the ice.”

Kendrick Nicholson

Nicholson, 34, has seen 32 games of NHL action, with 27 of those coming in 2015-16.  Nicholson got his start as a linesman in 2003, working the 2008 Memorial Cup and the 2009 World Under-18s. He picked up his armbands soon after, going on to referee two OHL finals, the 2013 Memorial Cup, and the 2014 World Under-18 Championship.  He also worked the 2014 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland.  The Stratford, Ontario, native made his NHL debut on January 17, 2015, working Hurricanes vs. Senators in Ottawa.    

Garrett Rank

Rank, from Elmira, Ontario,  made his NHL debut on January 15, 2015, working a game between the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres.  Since then, he’s gone on to officiate a total of 77 games – 39 in the NHL and 46 in the AHL. The native of Elmira, Ontario, was also chosen to work the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs.  An accomplished amateur golfer, Rank recently made the cut at the RBC Canadian Open and played at the US Amateur qualifiers – with linesman Derek Amell as his caddy. 


Shandor Alphonso

Alphonso, 32, has racked up 92 games in the NHL, with 46 in the 2015-16 season.  After three seasons as a linesman in the OHL, Alphonso signed an NHL contract. The Orangeville, Ontario, native made his league debut on October 17, 2014.  

“It was a great feeling to sign and be hired by the NHL,” Alphonso told the Orangeville Banner, upon his initial hiring in 2014. “I’ve wanted to be part of the NHL for most of my life, so realizing the dream was pretty amazing.”

Devin Berg

Berg, from Kitchener, Ontario, made the jump from the OHL to the NHL in 2015, working his first game on October 15, 2015. The 26-year-old split time between the AHL and NHL last season, picking up 47 National Hockey League games. 

“It seemed to just come natural to me,” said Berg, of making the jump to officiating.  “I really enjoyed doing it and it kept me part of the game. I just kept it going and it’s taken me to where I am now. It’s turned out really well.”

Brandon Gawryletz

Gawryletz, 33, has worked the lines for 42 National Hockey League games.  His first came on October 14, 2015, when the Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks met up at the Honda Center.  The Trail, British Columbia, previously spent time in the American Hockey League and ECHL. He also worked in the Central Hockey League, handling their Cup Finals in 2013 and 2014.  Gawryletz becomes the league’s second active official with NCAA Division I playing experience. The former University of Alaska-Fairbanks defenseman joins referee Wes McCauley (Michigan State). 

All six officials — McIsaac, Nicholson, Rank, Alphonso, Berg, and Gawryletz —  worked the AHL’s 2016 Calder Cup Finals. They took the ice alongside linesman Ryan Daisy, who was recently hired by the NHL. 

With the recent promotions, three of the four officials hired in 2015 – Berg, Gawryletz, and Gibbons – who was hired as full-time linesman – are all now on full-time contracts in the NHL. 

The newly-inked crew replaces the six NHL officials who retired last season – referees Greg Kimmerly, Dennis Larue, and Rob Martell, with linesmen Mike Cvik, Brad Lazarowich, and Andy McElman.

Congratulations to the league’s newest full-time referees and linesmen!  Best of luck in the 2016-17 season!



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