USA Hockey Officials Meet NHL Officials at Hockey Weekend Across America Games
USA Hockey Officials Eric Sailor (Sewell, NJ), Charlie Van Kula (Radnor, PA), Ryan Siegel (Dayton, NJ), and Bobby Esposito (Bridgewater, NJ) were chosen to represent the young officials from the Atlantic District at NHL games that were held during Hockey Weekend Across America.
Eric and Charlie attended the Philadelphia Flyers - New York Rangers game on March 1 in Philadelphia. They were able to visit with NHL Officials Brian Murphy, Dave Jackson, Gord Dwyer, and Matt MacPherson, both in the locker room prior to the game and at center ice during the National Anthem.
Ryan and Bobby visited NHL officials Tony Sericolo, Greg Kimmerly, Dan O'Rourke, and Jonny Murray at the New Jersey Devils - San Jose Sharks game on March 2 in Newark.
Here's what the young officials from our District thought of their experience:
"I had an amazing time meeting the officials before the Devils game on March 2nd. It was simply an experience that I will never forget."
"The officials were extremely helpful, and I was very grateful to hear about their past experiences. One thing that was common amongst the four officials I met was that they all started reffing relatively late. One of them didn't start officiating until he was age 25. This made me very grateful that I was able to start at the age of 14."
"None of them started officiating with the dream of going pro, but rather for the love of the game, and some extra cash. The dream of going professional came later on as they worked different leagues, and started to realize that this was something they could do."
"I too would like to go somewhere as an ice hockey official and meeting these guys really motivated me. They were evidence that hard work pays off, and meeting those guys has inspired me even more to keep pushing myself to the next level."
Ryan Siegel (participated in the Devils-Sharks game)
"It was a tremendous honor to be recognized for the hard work put in throughout the season. Meeting NHL officials and having the ability to ask them about their journey to the NHL is certainly an experience I will never forget. In my personal opinion, it was much cooler than meeting the players, and it was awesome to just have the ability to spend some time with them."
Eric Sailor (participated in the Flyers-Rangers game)
"The NHL guys were the friendliest group of guys; The most welcoming people answering all our questions and giving us honest advice."
"We were able to see and NHL game from the officials point of view, going inside their locker room and seeing what they see when they go to work. We were able to talk to them after the game, discussing the plays of the game and why certain calls were made."
"From start to finish, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and really makes me want to push myself to the next level."
Charlie Van Kula (participated in the Flyers-Rangers game)
"My Hockey Weekend Across America experience was incredible and I am very grateful to have been able to participate in such an event."
"The NHL officials were very personable and gave an abundance of advice for our officiating careers, as well as shared their own paths of development. Their willingness to take time before and after the game showed that the officials at the highest levels are not just great officials, but great people as well."
"One of my favorite parts of the day was being able to skate out with the officials for the National Anthem. Skating laps with the teams on the ice gave me an entirely new perspective on just how big the players are, as well as how big the arena feels compared to our ordinary local rinks.
"The behind-the-scenes exposure and the discussions with the NHL crew are things I will definitely remember for a long time. It truly was an unbelievable day."
The Atlantic District Officiating Program and the USA Hockey Officiating Program partnered with the National Hockey League and the NHL Officials Association to include young hockey officials in the Hockey Weekend Across America celebration at NHL games in our District, and in many other Districts across the country.