After playing the game his whole life, it’s no surprise that Caden Price
loves hockey. So, when an opportunity came up to spend more time at the
rink as a referee, he jumped at it.
“I would have been 13 years old [when I started refereeing],” says the
16-year-old, who is a defenceman with Team Canada Black at the Capital City
Challenge in Ottawa. “A couple of my buddies thought it would be a good
“I think a huge part was just giving back and I enjoy the sport so much
playing myself. Just to go out there and watch and ref tournaments, I think
it was a great experience.”
Price is not the only player who began refereeing because he loves the
game. His Team Canada Black teammate, Cameron Allen, took a step into the
world of officiating last year with two of his friends to ref an outdoor
league for players under nine years old.
“I like being on the ice, I like watching hockey,” Allen, 16, says. “I just
like getting involved and learning it from another side. Even though it’s
young kids, [it’s fun] to see the game from a different angle and to be out
there with the players and to see the way the game is when you’re not
That passion for being on the ice turned into an excellent first job for
“I guess it’s a story forever,” Allen says. “You know, when you get older,
your kids ask you [what your first job was and] it was refereeing. Just
being involved in the sport in other ways is great, and having that as my
first job, it’s even better.”
The financial aspect also had an additional benefit for Price.
“I wanted data really bad on my phone,” he says. “But [my mom] said the
only way I was getting it is if I pay for it. So, I thought what better way
to get out in the community and give back.”
It can be a tricky balancing act for players who take on officiating on top
of their busy team schedule. Since Allen was refereeing younger players,
the timing worked out that he could ref earlier in the evening and then
head to his practices afterwards. Price says he once officiated 19 games in
one month in addition to the time he was spending at the rink with his
“It was definitely busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Price says.
“I just love the rink, I love what I was doing and I love playing hockey.”
For many experienced players, refereeing is a great avenue to invest in the
future of the game they are passionate about, whether it’s a long-term or a
short-term commitment. Team Canada White defenceman Kaden Hammell, 16, was
happy to help one of his coaches by refereeing a few games one weekend.
“It was nothing too serious, but it was definitely fun,” he says. “It was
definitely a cool experience to see [the game] from a reffing standpoint.”
The opportunity to participate in the game as a referee at a young age also
opens a potential career path for players to consider.
“I think a referee job would be super cool for sure, no matter what league
you’re in,” Hammell says. “Obviously we all love hockey, so I think it’d be
cool to be around all the guys. I mean, you even see in the NHL… all the
[players] talking to the refs, just chatting them up. I think it’d
definitely be cool.”
At the very least, participating on both sides of the ice can certainly
benefit a player in their game play. That unique perspective also provides
an added level of compassion for officials.
“It gives me a good understanding of what the referees are going through in
those situations,” Price says. “Just knowing that they are doing their best
and they’re taking time out their day to do this.”
“Being a referee is a hard job, no doubt about it,” Hammell adds.
And for those who love the game as much as Price, Hammell and Allen do,
there’s a clear consensus to encourage others to get involved.
“If you love the game, it’s a really good job to get into and just helping
the next generation,” Allen says. “You’ve got to be patient, you just got
to try to make the best call and never be biased at all.
“Especially for the younger ages, it’s not as hard, so just building your
way up, not thinking you’re bigger than the game. Just go out there, not
trying to be a hero, and call the game fairly and be genuine with it.”