official hands on hips

A new road to officiating

A successful officiating pilot program at St. Joan of Arc High School in Barrie, Ont., may spark a future trend for Hockey Canada Skills Academies across the country

Quinton Amundson
March 8, 2022

Brent Crawford sought a learning module to constructively fill a sizable chunk of the off-ice, classroom content for St. Joan of Arc High School’s Hockey Canada Skills Academy (HCSA) in Barrie, Ont.

His decision to present an online officiating clinic to his students ultimately transcended to be effective time-filling content. Crawford, the instructor of this Catholic high school’s HCSA since its September 2014 debut, has motivated multiple Grade 9-10 students to pursue officiating certification. He also potentially generated a fresh access route into Hockey Canada’s Officiating Pathway.

In a sense, the unorthodox hybrid learning schedule—a split between in-person and remote instruction—induced by the COVID-19 pandemic paved the way for positive developments. Instead of several moderate scheduling blocks sprinkled throughout the school week, administrators had to get creative and schedule nearly the entire school day to elective studies.

Crawford and his team knew fitness activities, health instruction and lectures celebrating the rich history of Canada’s game could account for some of the instruction away from the rink, but infusing a new ingredient into this mix was necessary.

“An officiating clinic jumped to our minds right away, and we went online to look up some online clinics because most of the in-person options were closed down due to COVID,” Crawford says. “We saw some [resources], but it was unclear if we could get the kids to do it and if any of them would be interested in going on down the path to becoming referees.”

His instinct to contact Jeff Stewart, the director of program and events for the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF), paid off handsomely. Stewart connected Crawford with former NHL official Greg Kimmerly, who is currently fulfilling a two-year term as the OHF’s referee-in-chief.

“Right off the bat, Greg was excited, and he saw the value in getting a lot of young kids excited about officiating,” Crawford says about the initial meeting last October. “Before long, he and his team put together six PowerPoint presentations starting with referee initiation and working up to learning about four-man systems and all the penalty symbols.”

According to Crawford, the St. Joan of Arc HCSA crew responded well to the interactive features of Kimmerly’s presentations. The students were shown multimedia of various on-ice incidents and challenged to determine how they would approach these scenarios if they wore the zebra-stripe uniform.

Immersing in the intricacies of a fast-paced and demanding job also led to increased player-to-referee appreciation.

While not offering an exact count, Crawford says many of his students seek to complete Level 1 of the Hockey Canada Officiating Program (HCOP) to attain certification and ideally volunteer within the Barrie Minor Hockey Association in short order.

This development delights Dan Hanoomansingh, Hockey Canada’s manager of officiating.

“Officiating is an opportunity for hockey players to see the game from a different perspective, in a way that is flexible with their busy schedules, and earn some money,” he says. “When their competitive pathway as a player comes to an end, they have a natural transition to stay involved in hockey.”

The HCSA students are poised to enter the HCOP with confidence because their school gives them a leg up.

Ultimately, the pilot version of the St. Joan of Arc officiating clinic went so well that Crawford says there is a strong possibility of being renewed for the 2022-23 academic year.

“Even as we shift back to a normal schedule next year, I am definitely going to recommend we incorporate it again, and for all sorts of other programs across the country, too.”

Hanoomansingh is thinking on the same wavelength as Crawford.

"The Officiating Program is always looking for individuals with skating skills and hockey sense to join our ranks. Partnerships with our Hockey Canada Skills Academies is a fantastic opportunity to expose these individuals to officiating and give them an opportunity to be involved in the game in a different way."

For more information:

Dominick Saillant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
[email protected]


Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
[email protected]


Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]


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