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Western Branches Officiating Development - Season 3, Episode 2: Recruitment

For the third straight season, the Western Hockey League, in association with BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, and Hockey Manitoba, are producing an episodic video series about development as an official. Episode 2 focuses on the recruitment of new officials.

 Episode 2: Recruitment

See the entire series, including seasons 1 & 2 here.

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Hockey for Life - Kyle Kowalski

Alberta’s hockey community is filled with incredible people and incredible stories. From those who coached us, volunteered for us, kept our skates sharp and our ice fast, those who get up before the sun and make sure we’re up too. To the players who went to their first ever practice, scored the game winning goal or made it to the big leagues - we all have stories to tell about the game we love, and why we love it.

When Edmonton’s Kyle Kowalski got the call that he would be officiating at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships in his hometown later this month, he was hit with a flood of emotion.

“I got a phone call from our referee-in-chief. He just said ‘congratulations on your selection’, and I was just absolutely floored," Kowalski said.

First, he is a born and raised Edmontonian, so working a prestigious international tournament in his home town is an honour.

But he also has officiating in his blood. Not only is Kowalski a long-time Hockey Alberta official, his father Kevin was an official who also has a tie to the World Juniors. In 1995, his father officiated an exhibition game in Grande Prairie when the World Junior Championship was hosted in Red Deer.

Kowalski idolized his father growing up, so every time he steps on the ice to officiate, it’s a special moment for him.

“One of my fondest memories is still just walking behind my dad into the rink at Akinsdale Arena, and then seeing him on the ice as your hero, and now I have the ability to do that," he said.

Kowalski has previously worked the 2018 World Junior A Challenge, 2018 Hlinka/Gretzky Cup and was selected to officiate the 2020 USports Cup that was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Kowalski will work as part of a crew of 26 Canadian Officials assigned to the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. He will be joined by fellow Albertans Fraser Lawrence and Deion Foster.

Hockey Alberta wants to share your stories and celebrate the hockey community in our province.

Let’s thank those who show up for us every day and highlight the depth of hockey in Alberta.

Each week we are highlighting your stories on the Hockey Alberta social media. Tell us why you, or someone you know is ‘Hockey For Life’ – the impact hockey has had on you or the impact you’ve had on hockey


Record an interview, tell us your story on camera or write to us in the form below.

Keep your story brief - submissions may be edited for length and clarity. Videos will be edited to under two minutes.

Upload photos and videos to a cloud based service and share a link with us for download.

Learn more and submit your story >

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Three Albertan Officials selected for World Junior Championship

RED DEER - Three Albertan Officials have been selected to work the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Referees Kyle Kowalski and Fraser Lawrence, and Linesperson Deion Foster will all take to the ice when the World Juniors comes to the Edmonton bubble in December.

Kowalski (Edmonton), the son of a Hockey Alberta official and former member of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons, has worked the 2018 World Junior A Challenge, 2018 Hlinka/Gretzky Cup and was selected to officiate the 2020 USports Cup that was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Foster (Edmonton) grew up playing in Lloydminster, and now calls Edmonton home. He has officiated the 2016 & 2019 National Jr A Championship, worked the 2019 WHL Championship Series between the Vancouver Giants and the Prince Albert Raiders.

Lawrence (Edmonton) officiated the 2020 World Juniors last January in the Czech Repulic and also worked the WHL Final in 2019 and many other International assignments, Lawrence was named the Official of the Year for Hockey Alberta for the 2019-20 Hockey Season.

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Western Branches Officiating Development - Season 3, Episode 1: Introduction

For the third straight season, the Western Hockey League, in association with BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, and Hockey Manitoba, are producing an episodic video series about development as an official. Episode 1 is an introduction to the new season, which has come with a lot of changes.

 Episode 1: Introduction

See the entire series, including seasons 1 & 2 here.

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Hockey Alberta crests & Hockey Canada patches now available at select retailers

Hockey Alberta left breast crests and Hockey Canada left arm shoulder patches are now available for purchase at the following retailers:

United Sport & Cycle
7620 Gateway Blvd NW
Edmonton, AB

Tuxedo Source for Sports
2520 Centre St N
Calgary, AB

TBS Hockey Store
6013 48 Ave
Red Deer, AB

Ernie’s Sports Experts
11500 100 St
Grande Prairie, AB

Player Bench Team Apparel
612 13 St N
Lethbridge, AB

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Return to Hockey - On Ice Officials Plan

RED DEER - Hockey Alberta has worked with Hockey Canada and other provincial branches, Government of Alberta, Provincial Sport Organizations, Minor Hockey Associations, Leagues, and volunteer committees to develop Hockey Alberta’s Return to Hockey Plan. The Return to Hockey Plan provides guidance and expectations for a restart to hockey in Alberta, outlines required safety protocols and requirements, and assists Minor Hockey Associations (MHAs) and Leagues with tasks they need undertake for hockey to re-start.


The Hockey Alberta Officials Committee (HAOC) has developed this plan for On-Ice Officials to assist in the safe return of hockey for participating officials. While the HAOC has worked to reduce risks as much as possible utilizing available guidance from governmental, regulatory and health authorities, it is recognized that participating in hockey this season is the personal decision of each official.


This plan reflects the Hockey Alberta Return to Hockey Plan (updated October 2).


The Plan is subject to change based on future Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services and Hockey Alberta direction.
Information contained in this document is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The knowledge and circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are continuing to evolve and Hockey Alberta recommends that all participants and legal guardians refer to the Government of Alberta website for the most up to date information (https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx)

RETURN TO HOCKEY - On Ice Officials Plan >

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Photo credit: Rob Wallator


Hockey Alberta officials working to end racism and inequality in hockey

RED DEER – As officials from across Alberta prepare for the 2020-21 season, a special emphasis is being put on battling racism and inequality on the ice.

A number of topics were covered during the annual Officials Leadership Weekend (which was done virtually this year), with social injustice and inequality at the forefront.

Referee in Chief Craig Decoursey says equality on the ice begins with how officials treat each other.

“Part of your support will be ensuring you are inclusive, and supportive of your fellow officials, no matter their race or background,” he says. “Combating discrimination starts with us all working together to ensure a welcoming and safe refereeing environment.”

Sanjeev Bhagrath, a Sikh official from Edmonton, says he’s faced many challenges as an official who is a member of a visible minority.

“It is disappointing, unfortunate and disheartening the number of times I’ve had coaches, players and fans call me a Paki, Taliban member, or terrorist,” he says. “These comments have impacted me to the point where I’ve thought of quitting, and that I would never be accepted by the hockey world because of my colour.”

“However, my family and friends have always encouraged me to continue on and persevere,” Bhagrath says. “I will never understand why I have to be seen as a ‘brown official’ and not just ‘an official.’ We need change in hockey to make us all equal.”

In order to ensure a safe environment on the ice and respect amongst players, an increased emphasis is being put on officials to enforce discipline in situations of racism, discrimination, or inequality directed from one player, or a group of players, to another.

Charle Dumba, a Hockey Alberta official whose son, Matt, is currently working hard to lead change in the National Hockey League with the Hockey Diversity Alliance, offers his perspective as a parent and an official.

“As referees, we have a very important role to play, because we are at the grassroots level of where all of this starts,” he says. “As parents, we all want our kids to grow up a certain way, and be respectful, but we never really get to hear what they say on the ice, or hear what someone has said to them on the ice.”

“The Officials Leadership Weekend, organized by our Volunteer Leadership Coordinator, Chris Bruce, was a rousing success,” says Brett Kelly, Hockey Alberta’s Manager, Officiating. “Inequality and racism conversations are difficult to start, but that’s what we believe we’ve done – started the conversation around these vitally important causes.”

Kelly says the rule emphasis on inequality and discrimination, and the penalties associated with it, will be taught at all Hockey Alberta Officials clinics throughout the 2020-21 season.

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Photo credit: Rob Wallator


Important update for 2020-21 Officials Clinics

RED DEER - On-ice officials in Alberta are asked to take note of the following changes being implemented by Hockey Alberta and the Hockey Alberta Officials Committee for registration and clinics for the 2020-21 season.

For new officials, and returning Level I and II officials, in-person certification clinics will not start until after Thanksgiving weekend. The current targeted start date is the weekend of October 17-18, but that is subject to change based on developments within the province regarding COVID-19.

For Levels III-VI officials, they are eligible to sign up for virtual (video conference) session to obtain their certification for 2020-21. These clinics will be available starting in late September.

For any official who was certified in the 2019-20, that certification remains valid until January 31, 2021. Normally, certification from the previous season remains valid until December 31, but for this season, Hockey Canada has provided a special exemption extending that deadline by one month.

Clinic registration will begin in mid-September (specific date TBC). Check the Hockey Alberta Officials website (officials.hockeyalberta.ca) for updates and current information pertaining to officiating and the 2020-21 season.

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WHL Beyond Hockey: Austin Weisgerber — Constable

From whl.ca:

WHL Beyond Hockey is a brand new series celebrating the outstanding community contributions beyond the world of hockey made by those associated with the Western Hockey League. From Officials to Team Doctors, and everywhere in between, countless individuals across the WHL continue to put their best foot forward as they serve their community during this uncertain time.

Whether he’s helping diffuse tense situations on the ice or in the line of duty, Constable Austin Weisgerber has taken it upon himself to serve and protect.

Operating in unprecedented times, Weisgerber has showcased a strong commitment to his local community with the Medicine Hat Police Service.

“Our response and interactions have certainly changed now, with the safety of the public, ourselves, and families still at the forefront,” Weisgerber said. “Our patrol shifts now start and finish with about a 15-minute clean of our vehicles to ensure they are safe and sanitized, as well as a check of our PPE supply so we can appropriately respond to any situation protected against the virus.”

Weisgerber has also put in more than a decade of service on the ice as a hockey official. He joined the WHL for the 2018-19 WHL Regular Season and has refereed 32 WHL regular season games to date. He was also selected to work at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.

The 26-year-old has quickly adapted shared qualities from both of his professional roles.

“They’re both very similar in the sense that typically emotions are high, trying to be reasonable in unreasonable situations,” Weisgerber said. “You’re trying to be the calm voice out there to deescalate situations.

“The two go pretty well hand-in-hand.”

Under the tutelage of WHL Officials and other leaders in the field, Weisgerber said he’s realized a new level of importance for the work he does on the ice.

“You need to make sure that you’re doing your part too to keep the integrity of the game going and making sure you’re not the one controlling the outcome out there.”

In his community, the importance of the role has been heightened as well in a time when so many rely on first responders for assistance. When he’s pressed into action, he’s ready to help in any way he can.

“As much as we are trying to control some of the environments we are in, we are always ready to immediately help anyone in an emergency or potentially dangerous situation,” Weisgerber added. “One thing I have been proud of is the way our service and community have been working together to help each other out and navigate our way through these unique times.”

The WHL commends Constable Austin Weisgerber for his commitment to both professions as well as his contributions to protecting his local community.

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Hockey Alberta announces 2019-20 award winners

RED DEER - Hockey Alberta is pleased to announce the recipients of the annual Hockey Alberta Awards, with three officials earning honours.

These Awards allow Hockey Alberta and the Alberta hockey community to recognize outstanding individuals and teams for their hard work and accomplishments in making a positive difference for our participants in the game of hockey during the 2019-20 season.

The Hockey Alberta Awards program includes awards that are open to nominations from Hockey Alberta member organization, staff member or volunteer, and others that are determined by Hockey Alberta through a review of eligible candidates.

Officials receiving 2020 Hockey Alberta Awards are:

  • Official of the Year: Fraser Lawrence (Edmonton). Fraser is a Level 6 official from Edmonton who represented Canada internationally last season at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic. He has been involved provincially and regionally as an Instructor and Supervisor at Hockey Alberta’s Officials Development Camp and supervising the Alberta Cup.
  • Ernie Boruk Award: CJ Senkow (Grande Prairie). CJ has been involved in various capacities in both the North Central and Peace Region executives since 2001. He has worked all levels of hockey in Alberta and the WHL, officiated numerous Provincial and National championships, and just retired this year from the AJHL.
  • Dave Ganley Award: Geoff Da Silva (Calgary). Geoff has been officiating since the age of 16. Through Geoff’s efforts, Central Region has been able to identify and develop officials effectively and efficiently. Geoff’s ongoing contributions include participation as a league supervision in both the Alberta Junior and Midget AAA levels.

Congratulations to all of the Award recipients and nominees and Hockey Alberta and the hockey community thank you for your contributions to our sport. We encourage everyone to look at the full overview of the Hockey Alberta Awards program and consider who makes a difference to you, your team and your community in 2020-21.

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Photo Credit: Global News


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Western Branches Officiating Development - Season 2, Episode 10: Conclusion

For the second straight season, the Western Hockey League, in association with BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, and Hockey Manitoba, are producing an episodic video series about development as an official. Many different topics will be covered, including nutrition, off-ice presence, and communication. There will also be interviews with current and former WHL and NHL officials. For anybody who is interested in further developing as an official, or even is just curious about what goes into officiating at the top levels, it is highly recommended you check out this series.

Episode 10 - Conclusion

See the entire series, including the seven episodes from the 2018-19 season here.

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Western Branches Officiating Development - Season 2, Episode 9: Officials Appreciation Night

For the second straight season, the Western Hockey League, in association with BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, and Hockey Manitoba, are producing an episodic video series about development as an official. Many different topics will be covered, including nutrition, off-ice presence, and communication. There will also be interviews with current and former WHL and NHL officials. For anybody who is interested in further developing as an official, or even is just curious about what goes into officiating at the top levels, it is highly recommended you check out this series.

Episode 9 - Officials Appreciation Night

See the entire series, including the seven episodes from the 2018-19 season here.

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Western Branches Officiating Development - Season 2, Episode 8: Communication

For the second straight season, the Western Hockey League, in association with BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, and Hockey Manitoba, are producing an episodic video series about development as an official. Many different topics will be covered, including nutrition, off-ice presence, and communication. There will also be interviews with current and former WHL and NHL officials. For anybody who is interested in further developing as an official, or even is just curious about what goes into officiating at the top levels, it is highly recommended you check out this series.

Episode 8 - Communication


See the entire series, including the seven episodes from the 2018-19 season here.

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Western Branches Officiating Development - Season 2, Episode 7: Work/Life Balance & Recruitment

For the second straight season, the Western Hockey League, in association with BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, and Hockey Manitoba, are producing an episodic video series about development as an official. Many different topics will be covered, including nutrition, off-ice presence, and communication. There will also be interviews with current and former WHL and NHL officials. For anybody who is interested in further developing as an official, or even is just curious about what goes into officiating at the top levels, it is highly recommended you check out this series.

Episode 7 - Work/Life Balance & Recruitment

See the entire series, including the seven episodes from the 2018-19 season here.

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Photo credit: coldlakeairshow.com


Win tickets to Cold Lake Air Show

The weekend of July 18-19, 4 Wing Cold Lake in partnership with the City of Cold Lake is hosting the 2020 Cold Lake Air Show. The Air Show will feature the only Canadian appearance of the United States Navy Blue Angels demonstration team as well as celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the iconic Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds. There will be 4 hours of air demonstrations and lots of family fun on the ground including a kids zone, classic car display, static displays from both the United States and Canada and much more. You can find the Cold Lake Air Show on Facebook for more information.

A package of four tickets is available to one registered Hockey Alberta official. To enter, fill out the following form:

ENTRY FORM >

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North Region Golf Tournament

The 2020 Hockey Alberta Officials North Region Open golf tournament  will be held June 13 at Coal Creek Golf Resort near Ryley, AB. The event includes a shotgun start at 2 pm and registration fee is $120 Included with your entry:

  • Charter bus to a pickup location in North and South Edmonton
  • 18 holes of golf with power cart
  • Steak dinner following the round
  • Door prizes

Pickup Locations & Times:

  • North Location: Walmart - Albany, 16940 127 Street NW; Departure @ 11:30 AM
  • South Location: Superstore, 4821 Calgary Trail NW; Departure @ 12:15 PM

REGISTER NOW >

If you have any questions please email Kyle Hudon.

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Chad Huseby (right) and Fraser Lawrence (2nd from left) represented Alberta and Canada at the IIHF World Juniors.


Chad Huseby reflects on the World Juniors

CHAD HUSEBY RECENTLY RETURNED FROM THE IIHF WORLD JUNIOR HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIPS, AND REFLECTED ON HIS TIME IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC.

Recently I had the opportunity to represent Hockey Alberta, Hockey Canada and the Western Hockey League on the international stage at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is something that I will truly never forget.

My journey started on December 23 as I made the long journey to the Czech Republic. Upon arrival in Ostrava I was introduced to the rest of the officiating team, along with the IIHF officiating coaching staff that was assigned to this event. Twelve referees and 10 linesmen along with four officiating coaches and the IIHF officiating manager is what made up the 11th team of the tournament. This team of 27 was very diverse with officials and coaches coming from eight different countries. It was extremely special to sit in our meetings on Christmas Day as we prepared for what we were facing in the coming days. We all come from different backgrounds and different styles of game play but for the next two weeks we knew we would need to trust each other and work together to serve the game and the tournament as best as we possibly could.

The games and the atmosphere around the games was amazing! They do hockey differently in the Czech Republic, the games have a party atmosphere that is tough to match in North America. That made being on the ice and being in the stands special. The tournament was very well attended and the people in Ostrava love the game of hockey! It was amazing to see how many Canadian fans made the long journey across the pond; it was very cool to be part of a tournament that means so much to Canadians.

I ended up having a very successful tournament and was fortunate enough to work seven games in total. I worked four games during the round robin and then was assigned to work a quarter-final, a semi-final, and then ultimately the bronze medal assignment on the final day of competition.

I feel extremely thankful for this amazing opportunity. Every game we had a detailed supervision from one of the officiating coaches as well as detailed video work that helped us as we moved throughout the tournament. I know that officiating always seems to be a topic of discussion at these events, but after having been to one and having seen the work that the IIHF and the officiating team puts in behind the scenes I can tell you that I couldn’t be prouder to be part of the 11th team at the tournament and I am proud of the work that we did.

I would be remiss not to thank my wife Lindsay for her support, having four young children, it was a huge sacrifice for me to leave for 2 weeks at the busiest time of the year. I also need to thank Hockey Alberta, Brett Kelly, and Curtis Nichols for their continued support. It was awesome to work with the other Alberta official, Fraser Lawrence, in all three of my playoff assignments. I feel like we were able to show the world the level of officiating that this province produces.

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Celebrating our officials at the Saddledome

Hockey Calgary, the Calgary Hitmen and the Western Hockey League (WHL) got 120 young referees and linesmen onto the ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome before Christmas as part of Officials Appreciation Night. The event included an on-ice session with WHL officials and a classroom session with Hockey Alberta’s Central Region Officials Committee. Check out the video of the event, courtesy of Hockey Canada.

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