CORNWALL, P.E.I. - There’s a trick to refereeing a hockey game and not getting caught up in the excitement.
For Cassie Lank of New Haven it boils down to a simple premise.
“You’re there to be professional and not be involved in the game. Do your job,” said Lank, who skats with the North River midget A female team.
The 15-year-old has been officiating peewee and atom games in the North River Minor Hockey Association (NRMHA) over the last three years. She’ll do the same at the Sweetheart female hockey tournament Thursday through Sunday in rinks across eastern and central P.E.I.
Lank joins Sophie Flynn, 15, of Emyvale and Sarah MacEachern, 13, of Canoe Cove with the whistles for the tourney. Flynn and MacEachern, now in their second year of calling games, officiate throughout the season as well.
All three play hockey, too, and will skate for their teams in the Sweetheart. And all three admit they call games as an excuse to stay on the ice as much as possible.
“Hockey is really an important part of my life,” said Flynn, a forward with the Mid-Isle Wildcats midget AAA squad. “I thought it would be really fun to watch younger kids enjoy the same game I do.”
In this year’s Sweetheart, 93 teams from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. vie for titles in nine divisions from novice to midget AAA. Games are spread out in rinks in Crapaud, Borden-Carleton, Pownal, North Rustico, Bedeque, Cornwall and Simmons and Cody Banks arenas in Charlottetown.
Flynn, MacEachern and Lank are part of larger group at the Sweetheart that includes female officials from five other Island hockey associations. And there are more refereeing opportunities as the trio get older given the success of Islanders Cheryl Crozier and Ellen Dixon, who’ve officiated at the international, national, university and collegiate levels.
For MacEachern, who plays defence with the Mid-Isle Matrix bantam AAA male team, officiating is also a way to give back to the game she loves.
“It’s a way to (stay) around hockey and help the kids and make the game safer,” MacEachern said.
The three agree watching the younger player score is exciting even if they have to patrol themselves. They also agree on one of the more difficult and inevitable parts of the game.
“When the coaches yell at you,” MacEachern said with a laugh. “You can ignore him if you’re a linesman, you can’t do much else.”
A Closer Look
A look at the careers of two of P.E.I. female hockey officials.
2011 - Referee, Midget Atlantics in P.E.I.
2009 - Senior supervisor, Esso senior women’s nationals in Ontario.
2007 - Referee, Esso senior women’s nationals in British Columbia.
2005 - Linesman, Esso senior women’s nationals in Ontario.
2003 - Linesman, Canada Winter Games in New Brunswick.
2002 - Atlantic Challenge Cup in New Brunswick.
2001 - Linesman, international under-18 challenge in Quebec; Atlantic Challenge Cup in Nova Scotia.
2017 - Worked bronze medal game, midget female AAA hockey Atlantics; attended under-18 women’s national championship in Quebec.
2016 - Worked bronze medal game, midget female AAA hockey Atlantics.
2015 - Obtained Level IV officiating status.