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The Life & Times of Rory MacKillop Part 2: Reffing

09/06/2017, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech


Do you ever feel obliged to assist the referees officiating your son or daughter’s hockey games?

If so, Rory MacKillop, the man, the myth, the legend, has graciously offered up his time to give you some advice for how you should proceed when you get that spark of rage in your brain that makes us say and do some truly crazy things. 

This is the second in a three part series profiling long-time NSWC member Rory MacKillop. Read part 1 here. 


Kelvin: You’re trying to turn refereeing into a career. What’s that like?

Rory: Right now I’m in the initial footsteps of reffing junior hockey. It’s a tough roster to crack just like if you’re playing. It’s all about experience. From minor hockey to major midget to junior B and junior A, there are pretty clear steps and it’s a long process, but it’s a process you can enjoy in the meantime.  

How does a referee improve his or her game on the ice? 

A lot of it still involves playing. I’ll get off the ice after playing and sit down with the rule book just to make sure I’m clear on anything that might have happened in the game. I’ve called penalties that have been the wrong penalty, so it’s important to constantly try to right those wrongs. 

Whoa, you just admitted you’ve made mistakes? Also, I apologize for being a smart aleck. I can’t help it sometimes. I’ve always been on the other side of the bench.

(Laughs) Yeah man everyone mistakes. You’re proof of that. Anyways, for instance, if someone drops their stick and an opponent knocks it out of the way, I’ve called it an unsportsmanlike but it’s actually interference. Everyone knows what a trip and a hook and a slash is, but it’s the small rules you need to know to get to the next level. The nitpicky rules, when guys can come out of the box, substitutions. It’s the little calls that will really impress a supervisor and get you noticed. That’s how you move up to the next level. 

What are some of the craziest calls you’ve had to make? 

I’ve called an ineligible player one time when a player who wasn’t on the ice was sitting on the boards and he caught a puck. Then he dropped to the ice, dropped the puck and played it. Can’t do that. 

What do you think of the NHL’s offside review and the goaltender interference challenges? 

I personally don’t like it. Human error is part of everything. If a player makes a bad pass they don’t get a re-do. I don’t think things should be slowed down as a result of technology. At the end of the day you want to get the right call but we’re slowing the game down and the flow and momentum of the game suffers. The linesmen get it right the majority of the time, I just don’t like slowing it down. 

You won a big scholarship recently, tell me about that.

I won the Jim Hewitt Memorial Referee scholarship from Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey. It represents hard work and dedication as a referee. I’m going to use that on school in the upcoming year. It was funny, I knew I was going to win something at the banquet they invited me to, but no one there knew what they were going to win. So it was pretty suspenseful to hear my name called. Their were 13 scholarships presented.  

What do you think the selection committee recognized in you to give you the award? 

A lot of it I believe is experience. I’ve been reffing since I was 12 years old. The amount of games I’ve done, plus I’m a referee mentor at the winter club, I think went a long way. I’m also part of a clinic for brand new refs at the club and I go out and supervise games and give feedback to new officials. The TNT tournament is a big part of that. 


Next up, Rory gives some deeper insight into the psyche of a young referee trying something new and trying to give back. Who could get frustrated with that?

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