Who has a chance to be a Worlds referee?
Fans are usually more interested in the players on the ice, but many also notice the work of the officials on the ice both in their domestic leagues and internationally. Some of the world's better known on-ice officials are the ones who often get selected to perform their duties at the World Championships.
Marcus Vinnerborg is perhaps Europe's best-known referee. First known for the many years he worked in the Swedish Elitserien, he won the Golden Whistle award as the league's top referee three times in a row from 2008 to 2010. Then he continued overseas.
In North America, Vinnerborg began working in the AHL, but on 16 November 2010 he became the first-ever European-trained referee to work an NHL game. After two full seasons split between the continent's top two leagues, he returned back to Sweden.
Now widely regarded as one of the world's best referees, Vinnerborg had already worn the stripes in four World Championships before he went to North America, earning assignments to the gold medal games in 2007 and 2008. He also was selected for the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Sochi, two more World Championships since his return to Europe, and is now a referee in the Swiss National League A and the Champions Hockey League.
Another referee who is highly regarded in his field is Konstantin Olenin. The Russian hockey school graduate is one of three referees who haven’t missed a single tournament since 2010. A surprising fact about his career was that in 2013 he became the first Russian to ever officiate a World Championship final game.Continue reading
Olenin was also the only Russian to be chosen to work the 2014 Winter Olympics on home ice, where he managed to get an assignment in the bronze medal game between the USA and Finland. He also performed well enough during the 2013-14 KHL season that he was selected to work the seventh and deciding game of the Gagarin Cup Final between Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Lev Prague, as well as the league's All-Star Game in Bratislava.
Bulanov was one of four Russian on-ice officials at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk, the same number that the Czech Republic and United States had. Two of the Czech referees are well-known to international hockey fans, as Vladimir Sindler worked his 11th tournament and Antonin Jerabek skated in the 2012 and 2013 finals. In 2012, Jerabek was invited to the NHL officials' camp.
Just as it is for the players, getting into the gold medal game is a special event for referees and linesmen. The four men who get that coveted assignment do so because they performed their duties at a high level. In 2014, that honour went to Lars Bruggemann (GER), Keith Kaval (USA), Chris Carlson (CAN) and Andre Schrader (GER). Will any of them return to the 2015 final in Prague, or will they be replaced by some of the others who are anxious for the honour?
Referees Jyri Ronn (FIN), Vladimir Baluska (SVK) and Vyacheslav Bulanov (RUS) and linesmen Ivan Dedyulya (BLR) and Miroslav Valach (SVK) are among the others who have established themselves among the elite group of officials in the world of international hockey, and could be seen on the ice in Prague and Ostrava along with some of the world's best players. There will be 32 on-ice officals in total – 16 referees and the same number of linesmen. The final list of officials will be known in February.
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