An End Of Year Message from CJ Senkow

Fellow Officials:

I hope that you were all able to grow and develop both on and off the ice this season. As the season concludes, we can celebrate our accomplishments, while also reflecting on our shortcomings and working hard to improve in those areas. Here are a few highlights from the 2023-24 season:


Hosted approximately 270 clinics across the province, registering 5,729 officials (an increase of 624 from last year). A huge THANK YOU to all instructors and clinic coordinators for all the time and effort spent to get our season off to a great start. Also thank you to Dave Butler for his massive contribution in ensuring every registration for every official across the province is complete and correct.

Regional Highlights

North West (Peace):

  • Hosted the Alberta Winter Games, U21B Provincials, and this week’s National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.
  • Worked effectively with officials in NE British Columbia to support many leagues in NW Alberta.

North East:

  • Hosted a successful Level 3 & MHP Camp in August to allow officials the opportunity to upgrade their level this season.
  • Continued to foster a relationship with Hockey Saskatchewan as there are several border-crossing leagues and covering such a large number of games in a large geographical area is a challenge.


  • A strong volunteer base dedicated to developing officials at the grass roots level and consistently producing quality officials for provincial and national consideration.
  • Provincial leader for female official development, with a supportive environment that has developed and prepared officials to be successful at all levels of hockey.

North Central:

  • Excellent adaptability and “get things done” attitude in recruiting and supporting new officials, as well as the many events that come with having the Hockey Alberta office in Red Deer
  • Cody Huseby to oversee Prospects Cup as a regional development opportunity which will be a huge boost to the region and province in both the short- and long-term.


  • Successfully hosted the Circle K Classic and its large number of games for both officials and supervisors.
  • Officials’ availability remains a challenge at elite levels with the population of players far exceeding the number of qualified officials.
  • Expecting more collaboration with Hockey Calgary for next season, leading to an evolution in how things are done, as well as a cultural shift to set up the Calgary area for future success.


  • A constant ability to adapt to any challenge presented to them and a positive culture of quality officials always willing to support those around them.
  • This part of the province can be difficult logistically difficult but their innovative efforts to make that a non-factor for their officials are not to be overlooked.

Provincial Highlights

Provincial Assigning: There were some bumps but also many successes with this new initiative, including officials travelling for the opportunity to work U18AAA and/ or Female ACAC playoffs. Focus for next season is to improve communication on how we assign our top levels of hockey and determine which officials to include on those lists.

Many thanks to Scott Mah (North), Lisa Heddinger (South) and Dean Laschowski (AJHL and Male Elite) for assigning 1,127 games (5,104 assignments), utilizing 400 officials across the province.

Development: Enough can’t be said about the work by Colin Watt for the improvement and celebrated success for all officials (male and female) this past season.

This season’s Development events were the AEHL U18AAA, U17AAA, U15AAA showcases; Alberta Winter Games (female competition), AFHL U18AAA provincials, Alberta Cup, Alberta Challenge, and Development Camp coming in July. These events are the main pathway for officials to be identified and fine-tuned within the program with a solid foundation established for continued growth.

  • Spring Showcase (Alberta Cup and Alberta Challenge): Justin (Curt) L’Heureux coordinating the coaching of our officials at these short-term competitions. His knowledge and commitment is greatly appreciated as he has built connections with all these officials.
  • Alberta Winter Games: Referees-in-chief were L’Heureux (female event) and Dave Macpherson (male event). Very cool experience for our officials to work an event of this magnitude. Officials were brought in from across the province for the female tournament, affording some of them their first opportunity to work with an all-female crew. The male tournament was a Peace Region development opportunity for identification and development of their next crop of elite officials.
  • Development Camp (2023): A strong group of 13 males and three females took part in power skating, classroom sessions, leadership training, and other seminars. Camp was coordinated by Watt, with support from L’Heureux, Travis Toomey (NHL), Kevin Muench (WHL), Kevin Acheson (HA/WHL), Justin Slimm (HEAT), and myself. This camp provides an elite development and identification opportunity for officials to achieve their officiating goals. Ben Solomon was selected for the John Jacobs Award (Most Promising Official) and had the opportunity to complete an exchange with Hockey Eastern Ontario (Ottawa) for a weekend.

Hockey Alberta Coaching/Supervision Program: Continued progress in establishing consistent coaching for our provincially-assigned leagues. A few key individuals deserving recognition in this area:

  • Kevin Acheson (North Coordinator) and Glenn Agnew (South) and their teams providing feedback primarily focused on the U18AAA.
  • Fraser Lawrence (NHP/IIHF Official) and team providing further coaching and feedback for those officials in consideration for OPOE or NHP Seminar.
  • Curtis Nichols (AJHL VP Officiating) leveraging his team of officiating coaches across the province to support the development and identification of officials working Tier 2 (Junior A) hockey within the province.
  • Darby Readman (Female Program North) coordinating regular coaching opportunities for the female officials within the North Region, establishing a consistent pipeline of quality officials to work elite female hockey.

We have a huge number of dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to assist our officials in their development and to create a positive experience for all participants in the game. Next time you come across a mentor or have a supervisor at a game, please take the time to thank them for the time and effort they put in. Our program would not be as strong as it is without those volunteering their time to provide knowledge in supporting officials’ growth.

Hockey Canada

We continue to align our program with Hockey Canada’s updated officiating pathway. I am in regular conversation with Dan Hanoomansingh (Hockey Canada Officiating Manager), Todd Robinson (Hockey Canada Referee in Chief) and Vanessa Stratton (Officiating Coach Hockey Canada/ IIHF) to maintain this alignment as we reestablish Alberta as a leader nationally.

  • Master Officiating Developer Cohort 2024: Very excited to have Carmen Sydor representing the Branch in this new initiative from Hockey Canada.

The Officiating Program of Excellence is the pathway through which Canadian officials are selected for top national and international assignments. The objectives are to:

  • provide a clear developmental pathway for aspiring elite officials,
  • provide developmentally appropriate coaching for elite officials,
  • prepare officials for national and international competitions, and
  • assist Hockey Canada in making evidence-based decisions for national and international events.

Officials enter the OPOE through regional identification camps, based on nominations from their Member programs.

  • OPOE 2024: Congratulations to Jesse Wood-Schatz, Matt Lattimer, Cameron Halter, Kennedy Roblin, Cassidy Brand, Lindsey Ducharme, Jessica Hammer and Emily Hill on their selection to regional camps. Colin Watt was invited as an officiating coach, further confirming the alignment between the HA and HC programs.

The National High Performance Selection Camp is an intensive four-day experience to help selected officials develop the tools needed to succeed at an elite level. Selection by Hockey Canada follows a months-long evaluation process, including input from their respective Member programs and leagues. Upon successful completion of the camp, the officials join the national high-performance program and compete for Junior A and senior national championships, and international assignments.

  • NHP 2024: Congratulations to Hayley Butz, Alex Homer, and Mason Stewart on achieving the highest level within Hockey Canada.
  • National/International Assignments:
    • IIHF U18 World Championship: Taylor Burzminski
    • USport Female: Hayley Butz
    • Centennial Cup: Mason Stewart, Scott Kramers
    • Junior A World Challenge: Brayden Arcand
    • World Para Championship (Pool B): Kevin Webinger
    • Women’s U18 National Championship: Hayley Butz
    • World U17 Challenge: Alex Homer

Provincial Exchanges

  • NEO/HA: Most Promising at Development Camp (Ben Solomon) worked games in Ottawa, while Noah Bouchard from Ottawa came to Calgary for the Circle K Classic Tournament. This well-established relationship will continue for future seasons.
  • BC/HA: Spencer Acheson, Lindsey Ducharme, Megan French, and Brandon Peterson traveled to Penticton for the CSSHL U18AAA playoff tournament. This was a new opportunity for our officials this season, and we will look to continue this partnership with Hockey BC, with them likely to send officials to Calgary for the Circle K Classic in future seasons.
  • In conversation for future opportunities with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Quebec for future years.

Thank you to everybody who has contributed to ensure games are played across the province, and that our officials feel supported in their role in the game. The success of our program is within those actively involved year after year, and it is important to recognize that every one of those people has had a hand in the achievements of our officials.

Looking forward

As we look towards next year, I am excited:

  • Hockey Alberta Manager of Officiating: Liam MacIsaac has taken over this role as Brett Kelly has moved internally within Hockey Alberta. I want to thank Brett for all his support in the administration and evolution of our program. He has provided a clear path for Liam to continue along for the continued growth of our program.
  • Summer School: Stay tuned for more details in the coming months, but this new offering will be two advanced clinic weekends (one in St. Albert, one in Calgary) including sessions related to advanced techniques and theory, power skating, and more.
  • Provincial Assigning: We reflect upon the successes and shortcomings of the first year and plan for improvement for next season. Assignors are our front-line workers who are largely in control of the experience and morale of our elite officials across the province. There will be a working committee on this topic in the near future, if interested in participating please reach out to me directly for consideration.
  • Supervision Criteria: we all bring different experience and observations to this space. Our provincial supervision coordinators are working on a consistent standard which can be communicated and applied so everybody understands the expectations to attain higher levels of hockey.
  • AEHL Video Feedback and Monthly Communication: working within the confines of the AEHL and the HA office to establish a standard of officiating which can be consistent from all areas of the province. Using video will only improve the understanding of expectations and standards for those officials working within the province. The finer details are still being worked out, but this more regular communication will hopefully be a welcome tool for all officials and their development.
  • Regional Focused Priorities: To Train, Recruit and Retain officials. Our regions are a well-oiled machine of continued education for all officials from 12yrs old to 70+. Our regions are primarily responsible for day-to-day operations of grassroots officiating programs including clinics, shadows/supervisions, identification and promotion of those deserving, and nomination for provincial development opportunities. Our regional focus on these 3 values will only improve our involvement in the game of hockey more for all levels and those that we work with.

In closing, I want to thank the Regional Committees, the Provincial Officials Committee and every official across the province for serving and being a part of this great game. While your contributions may seem to be unnoticed, those within the hockey community know that often the best referees are those who go about their business without fanfare or recognition.

I look forward to seeing you all at a rink next season.

Golf tournament for James Sharun

Long time officials Todd Pawsey and Marty Tingstad are organizing a golf event and fundraiser for the family of James Sharun, a longtime official who we lost this year. This event is June 2 at Pheasantback Golf Course and is open to all hockey officials. A flyer for the event is included with this message. This is a time to reflect and celebrate all those who have worn the black and white jersey.


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