Play­ers and of­fi­cials are be­ing scouted at the OHL Gold Cup this week.

Sports re­porter Teri Pe­coskie looks at three lo­cal of­fi­cials hop­ing to take that next step to the OHL.

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - TERI PE­COSKIE

The play­ers aren’t the only ones un­der scrutiny in Kitch­ener this week. The ze­bras are too. For the fifth year in a row, the On­tario Hockey League is host­ing a high-per­for­mance of­fi­ci­at­ing camp in con­junc­tion with the OHL Gold Cup — an an­nual show­case tour­na­ment in which 160 of the prov­ince’s top play­ers vie for an in­vite to Hockey Canada’s na­tional un­der-17 camp.

And, like the play­ers, the of­fi­cials are look­ing to make an im­pres­sion.

The camp is de­signed to en­hance the de­vel­op­ment and per­for­mance of the top of­fi­ci­at­ing prospects in On­tario. It’s also a try­out. After five days of games and work­shops the best of the bunch will be selected to at­tend the league’s of­fi­ci­at­ing train­ing camp in Au­gust and given a chance to com­pete for a job on the OHL of­fi­ci­at­ing team.

The camp and tour­na­ment both wrap up Sunday.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­ci­at­ing di­rec­tor Con­rad Hache, more than 80 of­fi­cials ap­ply for the camp an­nu­ally and 20 are cho­sen, in­clud­ing some scouted by the OHL.

He and his staff search for tal­ent at mi­nor midget tour­na­ments, Jr. A games and mi­nor midget matchups in the Greater Toronto Hockey League through­out the sea­son.

The par­tic­i­pants — gen­er­ally men in their 20s — come from across On­tario.

Most go to school or work day jobs. They of­fi­ci­ate on the side and share a dream of call­ing games in the NHL.

There are a lot of of­fi­cials out there, but there are not a lot of good of­fi­cials. CON­RAD HACHE

Get­ting there isn’t straight­for­ward.

For play­ers, there is a path­way from mi­nor hockey to ju­nior hockey and the pros that doesn’t re­ally ex­ist for of­fi­cials. This camp is just one av­enue.

Since it was es­tab­lished along-

Of the 20 hope­fuls tak­ing part in this week’s camp, at least three are from the Hamil­ton area. The Spec­ta­tor met up with each of them in Kitch­ener to talk about the ups and downs of of­fi­ci­at­ing and why they love the sport.

An­dre Grougrou

Age: 19 From: Burling­ton On what makes a good of­fi­cial: “I think re­spect is a big thing. Re­spect­ing fel­low col­leagues, fel­low of­fi­cials out on the ice, coaches, play­ers — even the fans. Ev­ery­one is a part of the game and ev­ery­one has an im­por­tant role within the game, not just be­ing out there as a ref­eree.”

Matt David­son

Age: 21 From: Wa­ter­down On what he likes about the job: “I think there are a lot of trans­fer­able skills be­tween of­fi­ci­at­ing and the mil­i­tary and you de­velop a cer­tain level of con­fi­dence be­cause you’re sort of forced to. I’m in the in­fantry, so you have to be able to make high pres­sure, quick de­ci­sions and it’s the same sort of thing here. Some­times you screw up, but hope­fully you don’t. Hope­fully you get bet­ter next time. It’s a chal­lenge.”

Kon­ner Roskovich

Age: 21 From: Wa­ter­down On what it feels like to be heck­led: “That would be the tough part, es­pe­cially when you start (of­fi­ci­at­ing) in mi­nor hockey be­cause that’s when the par­ents are the cra­zi­est … You have to have thick skin for sure. It’s def­i­nitely a lot dif­fer­ent than a player be­cause par­ents aren’t yelling at you like they do of­fi­cials.” side the OHL Gold Cup in 2013, the pro­gram has grad­u­ated 27 of­fi­cials to the OHL, or roughly a quar­ter of the league’s cur­rent sta­ble. Nine­tythree of­fi­cials work the loop, in­clud­ing 38 ref­er­ees.

Whether they move on to the OHL or not, the goal of the camp is to pro­duce good of­fi­cials — some­thing Hache said are in short sup­ply.

“There is a big need for good of­fi­cials. There are a lot of of­fi­cials out there, but there are not a lot of good of­fi­cials,” he added. And what is that, ex­actly? Strong skaters, Hache said, with good body lan­guage, stel­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and an abil­ity to take charge, among other qual­i­ties.

It’s not nec­es­sar­ily about whether they make the right call, “but whether they’re coach­able.”

How many ul­ti­mately earn an in­vite to train­ing camp in Au­gust will de­pend on how they per­form at camp this week (of­fi­cials will work two games each as lines­men and ref­er­ees) and on the league’s needs.

HICKLING IMAGES PHOTO

Of­fi­cials get to­gether dur­ing the OHL Gold Cup in Kitch­ener, in­clud­ing Wa­ter­down’s Matt David­son, left.

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