Mak­ing hockey a fam­ily af­fair

Fam­ily trio work first hockey game to­gether

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

In Con­cep­tion Bay North the name Cronin is syn­ony­mous with hockey ref­er­ee­ing. Fa­ther Keith and his two sons Kyle and Luke are all mem­bers of the Bay Arena ref­eree as­so­ci­a­tion and a cou­ple of weeks ago they worked a game to­gether. It was a fam­ily first for the three Cronin boys.

You might call be­ing a hockey ref­eree the fam­ily busi­ness for the Cronins of South River.

It’s a name syn­ony­mous with of­fi­ci­at­ing in the prov­ince and lo­cally in Con­cep­tion Bay North.

Keith, the fa­ther, spent 25 years as an of­fi­cial prior to step­ping away a decade ago and has re­cently re­turned to the brother­hood. His old­est son Kyle has been don­ning the stripes for sev­eral years and his youngest child Luke is in his sec­ond year with the Bay Arena ref­eree’s as­so­ci­a­tion.

Be­tween them, there’s more than 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence on the ice. They’ve done games at the high school and ma­jor mid­get levels, while they’ve also done plenty of house league and all-star hockey in their ca­reers.

There was one thing they had never done since Keith got the busi­ness rolling years ago and that’s work a game to­gether. Keith was ref­eree-in-chief when Kyle started but he was never on the ice, while Kyle and Luke worked the same games, but as lines­man and score­keeper.

That changed a cou­ple of weeks ago when all three Cronins worked a peewee house league game as an of­fi­ci­at­ing crew. Kyle donned the red stripes as the ref­eree while Luke and Keith were his li­nes­men.

“It was pretty cool,” said Kyle. “I never thought we’d be able to do it.”

In the ten years Keith had been gone, there’s been a cou­ple of changes made to the pro­ce­dures for of­fi­cials. Things like rais­ing your hand as the front lines­man when call­ing ic­ing and the two-line pass were elim­i­nated from the game awhile back, but were around the last time he worked a game as a lines­man.

He even had to buy all new gear be­cause Kyle had ripped up his old equip­ment when he first started.

“It was a good game,” said Keith. “I did a cou­ple of things wrong, go­ing back to the old­school.”

Aside from those cou­ple of hic­cups, the ex­pe­ri­ence left a mark for all three of them.

It was some­thing new for Luke. He’d been in­flu­enced to be­come an of­fi­cial by his fa­ther and his brother, yet he’d never seen his fa­ther on the ice.

Like­wise, Kyle was drawn to of­fi­ci­at­ing be­cause of his fa­ther.

“It was pretty good,” Luke said of the ex­pe­ri­ence. It was some­thing he never thought pos­si­ble be­fore this year.

Hav­ing a fa­ther and his two sons on the ice at the same time is a rar­ity. You might find a fa­ther and one son de­pend­ing on their age or two brothers, but all three at the same time doesn’t come around very of­ten.

Keith knew com­ing back this year would give him the op­por­tu­nity to work a game with his boys.

“Be­ing out there with them made me a proud dad,” said Keith.

“It was spe­cial,” added Kyle.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

It’s rare to see a fa­ther and his two sons work a hockey game as of­fi­cials at the same time. Yet that’s what the Cronins, from left, Keith, Luke and Kyle did when they all donned the stripes for a peewee house league game at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts ear­lier this month.

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