2021 22 capital city challenge triple ref

Gaining their stripes

After years on the ice as players, several Capital City Challenge participants have donned black and white to give back to the game they love

Shannon Coulter
November 28, 2021

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 idea.

“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 playing.”

That passion for being on the ice turned into an excellent first job for both players.

“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.”

Caden Price

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 team.

“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.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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