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WHL OFFICIAL RYAN GIBBONS RECRUITED BY THE NHL

The Western Hockey League is regarded as one of the world’s finest development leagues that produces many elite players in the National Hockey League. However, the WHL is also one of the best leagues in regards to development of its officials with many of them moving on to the professional level.

The WHL is proud to recognize linesmen Ryan Gibbons who was recruited by the National Hockey League this season after spending four years as a WHL linesmen. Gibbons began work with the NHL as a linesmen earlier this season and recalls working his first game.

“It was a dream come true,’ said Gibbons in regards to officiating his first NHL game. “I actually got to work with other former WHL officials with Tom Kowal, Shane Heyer and Graham Skilliter so it was pretty special. It was a neat bond we had there as well.”

“I was definitely nervous when I first stepped onto the ice,” Gibbons added. “Once the puck dropped and that first play came across my line, it all fell into place and I was able to lean back on my experience and enjoy working the game.”

Along with officiating WHL regular season and playoff games, the 29-year-old native of Vancouver, BC gathered significant officiating experience at national events. Gibbons saw work as a linesmen at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, SK, and also served as a linesmen for the duration of the 2014 WHL Championship Series between the Portland Winterhawks and Edmonton Oil Kings. For the recent graduate of the WHL’s Officiating Program, Gibbons indicated that his development in the WHL certainly played a major role on helping him reach the professional ranks.

“Kevin Muench and his staff provided a really supportive environment for me to develop as an official,” said Gibbons. “I definitely owe a lot to Kevin and all the other supervisors across the WHL. The dedication they have to their scouting and development of officials is evident because I learned just as much from my fellow officials there as well. It’s a real good staff they’ve put together.”

Gibbons is just one of many NHL officials to have gained knowledge and experience during their time in the WHL. Current NHL referees including Brad Meier and Kelly Sutherland are amongst former WHL officials to have reached the highest level in the profession.

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In addition, four WHL officials have been assigned by the International Ice Hockey Federation to work at various IIHF events during the 2015-16 season. The officials include referees Michael Campbell (Surrey, B.C.), Jeff Ingram (Langley, B.C.), and Brett Iverson (Richmond, B.C.) as well as linesmen Nathan Vanoosten (Surrey, B.C.). They are also products of the Hockey Canada Officiating Program.

“The Hockey Canada Officiating Program is for anyone interested in officiating the game of hockey, from beginners to seasoned veterans. There are six levels in the program, from those looking to get started to the top tier of officials,” said Todd Anderson, senior manager of officiating at Hockey Canada. “Officials play an important role in keeping the game safe and fair for players and their teams – two crucial elements to ensuring we continue to grow the game across the country, and internationally.”

WHL OFFICIALS ASSIGNED TO IIHF EVENTS IN 2015-16

Referees 

HCOP

IIHF Event

Location

Michael Campbell 

Level VI

World Junior Championship, Div III

Mexico City, Mexico

Jeff Ingram 

Level VI

World U18 Championship

Grand Forks, N.D.

Brett Iverson 

Level VI

World Junior Championship

Helsinki, Finland

Linesmen 

HCOP

IIHF Event

Location

Nathan Vanoosten 

Level IV

World U18 Championship

Grand Forks, N.D.

In addition, referee Brett Iverson (Richmond, B.C.) and two linesmen, Chris Carlson (Edmonton, AB.), and Bevan Mills (Langley, B.C.) are on the long list to officiate at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship next May in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. A final list of officials for that event will be announced early in the new year.

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