Calling the shots

Truro referee heading back to pro ranks next season with family support

Lyle Carter
Published on August 1, 2014

Jon McIsaac is going into his seventh season as a professional hockey referee. Good things have been happening to the Salmon River native and besides completing his third season in the American Hockey League, McIsaac also refereed three National Hockey League games last season.


Handling the assignments, Buffalo at Philadelphia, Dallas at Colorado and Winnipeg at St. Louis like a seasoned pro, the future is indeed bright for the 30-year-old.

“I’m very happy with the way things have been going,” McIsaac said. “The strides I’ve made are in the right direction but there’s still lots of work to do to be a full-time NHL referee. Consistency every night is important to me. I want to call a good game every time I step on the ice.”

Training camp for a new season is just over a month away.

“We begin Sept. 5 in Collingwood, Ontario,” McIsaac said. “We go for less than a week and then the pre-season will start. I’ll probably work a few NHL games. It’s nervous butterflies every year. I shake my head sometimes and I find it hard to believe I now have a referee’s sweater with ‘NHL’ on it.”

McIsaac, on the third year of an NHL contract, has worked hard in the gym this summer.

“I feel good about my conditioning,” he said. “I’m probably in the best shape of my life. The summer has been real busy. I also worked quite a number of clinics for young officials.”

After previously living in Philadelphia during hockey season, this will be the third season McIsaac and his wife Sarah will use Truro as their home base.

“Sarah is amazing,” McIsaac said. “With my being on the road a lot she deals with it really well. We talk a lot by telephone and keep closely in touch. There are tough sides to this life, like not seeing my dad and family that often during hockey season.”

People ask questions when they see Jon in Truro during the season.

“They just think he’s home for a visit,” said Sarah, who is expecting their first child in November. “I’m so happy, I love it here in Truro, and using Truro as a home base, we have the wonderful support of both of our families. We are living a very exciting life and I think it is amazing the travel Jon does. He sees many cities, he stays in nice hotels and he eats well. The tough side is, Jon is away on the road so much.”

Sarah is the daughter of former Truro Bearcats star forward Brian Pinkney and former world curling champion Colleen Pinkney.

The McIsaac family is also heavily sports scene connected.

“I look up to my father (Bill) highly,” McIsaac said. “Dad’s story makes me work harder and want to succeed. I’ve looked through his scrapbooks a million times over the years. His baseball career and him being scouted and getting to play at Fenway Park in Boston has been a great push for my own career. Dad came very close to making it in the Red Sox organization.”

Jamie, Jon’s older brother, was an outstanding referee for 18 seasons working such major events as the Allan Cup, Fred Page Cup and World Under-17 Hockey Championship.

“It was Jamie who influenced me to try officiating,” McIsaac said. “Jamie was a mentor for sure. In 1998-99 I began doing the lines while Jamie refereed. When I started refereeing, as an ex-hockey player, there were a number of things Jamie had to correct or show me.”

Regarding his mother Joan, who passed away Nov. 21, 2012, McIsaac has been working hard to organize the first annual Joan Lynn McIsaac Memorial Golf Tournament.

Things are shaping up for the tournament, which will be played at the Mountain Golf and Country Club August 9.

“We have 100 golfers right now,” McIsaac said. “We’re pretty well filled up. The support from everyone has been overwhelming. We’re going to be playing for a Stanley Cup. There are a lot of good prizes. Zach Sill, our local pro hockey player and NHL linesman Matt Macpherson will play in the tournament.

Joan, a fixture as a sports scene fan and supporter for many years, would be very pleased.


Lyle Carter’s sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News.

If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.