When Mark Anstey steps on the ice for the first time at the Atlantic Challenge Cup hockey tourney in Moncton, NB, he doesn't foresee himself being nervous.
The invite to the tournament, which runs from Oct. 5-8 at the Red Ball Internet Centre, is evidence that Anstey has proven himself as a dependable and capable official.
The 17-year-old Bay Roberts resident received a phone call earlier this month from Hockey NL referee-in-chief Don Kelly. He was not expecting to hear the words that Kelly uttered - he would be one of three Newfoundland officials to attend the Challenge Cup. Anstey will work as a linesman.
"I didn't think I'd get chosen to go, actually," said Anstey. "I'm surprised and excited."
Officials are chosen from a pool of the best, young referees from around the province when they converge on Gander for the Officials Program of Excellence each summer.
Anstey is a Level III certified official, and thought he performed well at the camp. Officials are put through a gruelling couple of days of off-ice conditioning. They also officiate inter-squad games for the provincial team selection camp.
Only the best of the best are given such high profile assignments.
Fellow officials Dougie Kelly and Steven Guy will also be in Moncton.
Anstey has been officiating for five years. He views his selection as validation of has hard work and commitment.
"It's nice to get noticed," he said. "It feels good."
Excited to go
Like any other person involved in sports who gets to travel, there is a level of excitement.
For Anstey, it is no different.
"I'm looking forward to doing a higher level of hockey," he said.
The prospects of being on the ice with some of the best young talent in the Atlantic provinces, including eight from the Trinity-Conception region (see related sidebar), naturally brings with it a certain amount of pressure.
Anstey will be evaluated on his performance, which could open future opportunities at an even higher level.
Anstey has experience officiating games at the high school and major midget levels in this province, and is not daunted by the brighter spotlight that an Atlantic tournament shines.
"I don't feel any pressure about going up there," he said.
Words of praise
Since Anstey learned of his selection to the Challenge Cup tournament, word has spread like wildfire.
The Bay Arena Minor Hockey Association sent out a newsletter congratulating Anstey.
Bay Arena referee-in-chief Keith Cronin also sent out an email praising Anstey for the work he has put in over the years, and at the same time congratulating him.
"I received emails from Eddie Russell and Dean Whalen as well, wishing me well," said Anstey. Both are veteran hockey officials in the region.
About Mark Anstey
• Age - 17;
• Hometown - Bay Roberts;
• Parents - Lindsey and Donna Anstey;
• School - College of the North Atlantic, Carbonear (engineering technology);
• Favourite meal - chicken;
• Favourite television show - Sportscentre;
• Favourite song - "whatever is on the radio".