Bay Roberts native a role mode for referees, says Eddie Russell
When Tyler Hill learned he was selected as a linesman for the world under-17 hockey championships in Windsor, Ont. from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5, he was shocked.
"I was very, very surprised," the Bay Roberts native said last week.
Hill was at home when he received a phone call at 11 p.m.
© Compass file photo
Tyler Hill of Clarke's Beach is the only male hockey official from this province invited to take part in the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax.
On the other end was Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador referee-in-chief Don Kelly, waiting to tell him of his impending trip to the tournament.
"Before the call I was kind of disappointed because I didn't have anything yet," said Hill.
After going to the Canada Games last winter in Halifax, Hill did not think he would be selected to go to another tournament on the mainland.
"When you go to the Atlantic Officiating Program of Excellence (AOPOE) you fall under a three-year term," he said.
For three years, referees who attend the camp have the opportunity to go to a high profile tournament.
"I knew there was a possibility last year that I could be going," said Hill. "However, seldom do referees get to go to two tournaments in the three years."
Hill said Kelly was excited to deliver the news, telling hill to "do your own thing."
"He told me I couldn't tell anyone because the rest of the referees hadn't been informed yet," said Hill.
It was rough for the young official, given his understandable excitement.
"It was a rough week-and-a-half for keeping it a secret," said Hill. "He told me I could tell my parents, but that was it."
Hill admits he is feeling the pressure of going to a tournament featuring the best under-17 hockey talent in the world.
"I feel good but I also feel a little nervous at the same time," he said. "I don't really know anyone going and I have the feeling I'm going to be the youngest official there."
Hill figures he is going to go to the tournament and "skate his ass off."
"They are going to be a lot more strict up there," he said. "If you miss a call, they are going to let you know about it, with some choice words mixed in."
Keeping up on his procedures manual will be something Hill will be focusing on over the next month, making sure everything is perfect for when he goes away.
"I've been working out a little bit," he said. "I haven't had a lot of time to tell you the truth."
Hill knows that personally, being selected, is "a big deal."
"It's unreal, there are going to be so many more doors open to me," he said. "There were doors open before, but it's all positive feedback."
Without Eddie Russell, Hill admits he might not have gotten this far.
"I definitely would not be going without his mentorship," he said.
Russell, the former referee-in-chief at the Bay Arena, said he is excited for the opportunity that has presented itself to Hill, and is proud of him.
"It's a proud moment for me for sure," Russell said.
Russell feels like Hill is a "student of officiating."
"He has the whole package," he said. "He has the size, the attitude and the skating ability. Tyler has the potential to go a long way, and I mean the NHL."
Hill feels like this selection will enable Newfoundland referees to gain more notice in the national spotlight.
"Newfoundland definitely goes under the radar a bit," he said. "It looks good on us."
Russell feels like Hill's selection is a big boost to officiating in Newfoundland.
Though there are a lot of high quality officials in the province, it is "tough to get them breaks," Russell said.
The selection also shines a profile on the Bay Arena referee's association.
"It kind of says, 'hey they're doing some good things out there,'" said Hill.
The association already exhibits success based on the reviews he has heard from parents, coaches and players on visiting teams, according to Hill.
"There are going to be a lot of kids watching from home," said Russell. "He is a role model."