Carey Tremblay nearly turned his back on what he said is the best seat in the house at a hockey game.
Instead, Tremblay decided to continue lacing up his skates and putting on his official’s jersey. His performance last year resulted in him being named Penticton Minor Hockey Association’s top official.
“That means a lot to me,” said Tremblay, who came to Penticton from Yellowknife. “I have been doing this for 25 years. I got some pretty good assignments this year.
“I feel like I’m on the tail end of my career,” he continued. “For me it was really great. It sort of put wind back in my sails. Really keeps me motivated and excited about it.”
After officiating his entire career in Yellowknife, Tremblay said working games in Penticton was an eye-opener. The quality of hockey is higher than what he has experienced. Tremblay has officiated at the midget level for several years with a resume that includes working an Edmonton Oilers rookie camp, the Arctic Winter Games in 1996 and the Canada Winter Games in 2007, the latter being the highlight of his career.
The chance to work the Oilers camp came two days before players arrived in Yellowknife.
“We were in our glory. It was amazing just to see the Oilers logo on the ice here,” said Tremblay, a travel and financial consultant. “The hockey was just amazing. I think we were more in awe and couldn’t focus too much on what we were really supposed to be doing. I remember the first fight, I was so intrigued … I sat there and watched it, I kind of forgot to send a linesman to break it up and the guys just gave up on their own.”
An incident in the Arctic Winter Games led to Tremblay being dubbed the human bowling ball. Tremblay was a linesman and players were jawing at each other. In comes Tremblay full speed from his blueline to clear the chaos. About 10 feet from the action, he lost his edge and took out the referee facing him and the players.
“It was like a bowling ball,” he said. “The crowd absolutely loved it. It was embarrassing, but in hindsight, it was also quite amusing.”
The 45-year-old joined the striped fraternity to stay in the game he loves.
With another hockey season a month away, Tremblay looks forward to getting back on the ice, especially with the PMHA’s younger officials. Larry Jeeves, referee in chief of PMHA, said Tremblay is excellent in his role.
“Carey really stands out in his communication with the players on the ice and the coaches,” said Jeeves.
PMHA is looking for referees age 12 or older, who can grow from training under people like Tremblay. While they have 52 officials on their list, Jeeves would like to see that total increase to 70 as it will help ease the workload on other officials. Jeeves said anyone interested in becoming an official needs to have a particular mindset.
“You gotta have a thick skin in some cases,” said Jeeves.
The PMHA has a training program for officials, which includes them being mentored usually during exhibition games and having radio contact with supervisors. First-year officials are also limited to working as linesman.
Anyone interested in becoming an official should contact Jeeves at 250-490-9123 or email email@example.com.