The Ontario Hockey League held its annual pre-season Officiating Camp this past weekend, August 25-26, 2017, at the University of Guelph.
A total of 82 officials were invited including 15 prospective OHL officials along with 31 referees and 36 linesmen returning on staff. The camp included fitness evaluations, skating sessions, rules emphasis, and team building activities. Assisting the league’s officiating managers were a trio of former OHL officials including retired NHL referee and current NHL officiating manager Don Van Massenhoven, 24-year veteran NHL linesman Greg Devorski, and NHL linesman Scott Cherrey who just completed his tenth professional season and skated his first Stanley Cup Final.
A highlight of the annual Officiating Camp is the presentation of “The Bodie” Character Award for Officials with the 2017 honour received by referee Joe Celestin.
“As the longest tenured OHL official currently on staff, Joe is a most deserving recipient of this prestigious honour,” said OHL Director of Officiating Conrad Hache. “It comes as no surprise that Joe would be voted by his peers for this award. He’s displayed unwavering commitment to the league over the past two decades and continues to be a positive role model for all members of our team.”
Celestin, a native of London, Ont., is entering his 21st OHL season. He worked the lines for 11 seasons beginning in 1997-98 and highlighted by an appearance in the 2008 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Kitchener. The next season he transitioned to referee with the 2017-18 campaign set to be his tenth with the orange bands.
Established in 2013, “The Bodie” is presented annually to the OHL official who demonstrates a passion and dedication to officiating and the game of hockey, who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice, professionalism, and is respected by OHL member teams, players, and fellow officials. The award is named in recognition of former OHL Senior Officiating Manager, Ken Bodendistel, who served 40 years in the league beginning as a Supervisor in 1974-75. Bodendistel passed away in November, 2013, at the age of 73 after a courageous battle with cancer. This year marked the fifth year “The Bodie” has been presented with past recipients including Mike Cairns, Steve Corlyon, Sean Reid, and Scott Oakman.
Also recognized at camp were a group of veteran officials set to begin milestone seasons in the OHL. Linesman Dave Pfohl of Limehouse, Ont., will embark on his 15th career season, while referees T.J. Foster (Guelph), Jesse Wilmot (Hamilton), Ben Wilson (Guelph), and linesman Dustin McCrank (Guelph) have each been members of the OHL’s officiating team for 10 seasons.
The OHL would also like to congratulate linesman Andrew Smith for recently signing with the NHL. The Kitchener native skated just one season in the OHL which included Rogers OHL Championship Series and Mastercard Memorial Cup assignments before catching the eyes of the professional ranks.
Preparation continues for 2017-18 with OHL officials hitting the ice for the league’s exhibition season starting Friday September 1, followed by the regular season which commences Thursday September 21.