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Tough task of officiating hockey suits local lad


The familiar cliché has been around for a long time.

Sam Currie keeps busy officiating local hockey games six or seven days a week. The 18-year-old Masstown native has big league dreams and superb role models to follow.

“It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.” In this case, on-ice officiating is definitely one tough job and one most of us wouldn’t qualify for. If we did, we wouldn’t take it for any amount of money.

Enter Sam Currie, a well-conditioned five-foot-11, 165-pound athlete from Masstown. The 18-year-old high school senior played minor hockey in Debert from atom until midget, but found his passion elsewhere.

“Along the way I developed another interest,” he said. “When I was 11 I began refereeing novice hockey. It probably came about because my father (Randy) refereed hockey.”

In recent years, Currie has been a linesman in junior A hockey as well as junior B and major midget. We’ve also watched Currie handle himself well refereeing in the Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League. It was back during Thanksgiving weekend that he accepted an invite to referee seven games in the Atlantic Challenge Cup in Moncton.

“I really enjoyed the experience,” Currie said. “Major bantam hockey is quick so an official is skating pretty steady for an hour-and-a-half. It was an honour to get to work with the best officials in the Atlantic Provinces.”

For this week’s Sports Scene, we talked to Nelson Thompson, the Fundy Zone Supervisor of Officials. Thompson, a Sydney native and former 10-year American Hockey League linesman, has resided in Bible Hill since 1989. Hockey Nova Scotia honoured Thompson in 2013-14, presenting him with the Hal Lewis lifetime achievement award.

“Three ex-AHL referees supervised the (ACC) and they were all very impressed with Sam and the way he handled himself,” Thompson said. “Sam knows the game, he played the game which really helps.”

His stature also helps. Currie recently put on 15 pounds in the gym, and has been taking advice from Jon McIsaac, a Truro native and AHL/NHL official.

Currie, who worked the high school provincials last year, has been a linesman in eight Maritime Junior Hockey League games to date this season. Next Saturday, he’ll work the Truro Bearcats home game against the Campbellton Tigers.

“It’s an assignment I’ll think about right up until puck drop,” he said. “A lot of it is about officiating the top calibre game you can… Things liven up and it’s a real nice atmosphere.”

Good role models have been important to Currie.

“I wouldn’t have got this far without Nelson’s help,” he said. “Nelson is very good at assessing an officials’ performance. He’ll come in the referee’s room following a game and point out the things you should work on to improve your game.”

Then there’s McIsaac, who Currie calls a “perfect role model.” The two spend time in the gym together when McIsaac is home from assignments. All of the work is towards one major goal.

“It’s definitely been on my mind since the day I began officiating to one day be an official in professional hockey.”

Currie plans to attend Saint Mary’s University next fall and will study criminology. With a sound outlook for the future and keeping options open, he plans to also seek a career in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“I want to continue on officiating in the Metro area. I plan to keep working hard towards my hockey goal. I’d like to advance up to a higher league. I’ll try to keep gaining experience and learning all I can. Someday, hopefully, a break will come my way.”

Note: Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.

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