Nathan Van Oosten in 2015. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Nathan Van Oosten in 2015. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Surrey-raised hockey official whistles his way around the world

Winter Olympics, IIHF World Championship this year for linesman Nathan Vanoosten

Surrey-raised hockey official Nathan Vanoosten is whistling his way around the world.

For two weeks in Denmark this spring, among four Canadians selected as on-ice officials, the veteran linesman will return to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championship tournament, which involves many current and former NHL players.

In February, Vanoosten represented Canada as an official at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea – one of the highlights of his career, to date.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate and blessed just to travel so much and work such great hockey games,” he told the Now-Leader. “And it’s the great people I meet, too – the people at the rink, the other officials, everybody.”

Vanoosten will travel to the IIHF tourney in Denmark with three other Canadians, including fellow linesman Dustin McCrank (of Guelph, Ont.) and refs Olivier Gouin (Terrebonne, Que.) and Brett Iverson (Richmond). The hockey federation announced the list of officials assigned to the tournament on March 27.

• READ MORE: Whistling at work: Surrey hockey officials go international, from 2015.

This is a return trip to the event for Vanoosten, who made his debut at the IIHF world championships last year in France and Germany.

In the winter months, he works many Western Hockey League (WHL) games – “six to eight a month,” he says – when not at his other job, as project manager with Raicor Contracting.

Growing up, Vanoosten said he “did a good chunk” of his officiating in Surrey rinks early in his career, and his parents still live in the Fleetwood area.

At age 34, the Vancouver-area resident would still love to work NHL games.

“I have a feeling that one has passed me by, at my age. I was in the mix awhile back but it hasn’t panned out for me,” he said. “But I love the challenge of officiating top-level hockey, and I’m still getting to do that.”

Being on the ice during the recent Winter Olympics was “an unbelievable experience,” he said. “We were there for two and a half weeks and did four games, including the quarterfinal between Sweden and German. The hockey was great.”

Gouin and Iverson joined Vanoosten for the Games in South Korea.

Looking ahead, the 2018 IIHF World Championship will be played from May 4 to 20 in Copenhagen and Herning, Denmark.

Over the years, Vanoosten has called lines at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge, as well as the 2009 RBC Cup, 2013 and 2016 Memorial Cup, 2015 World University Games, 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship and 2016 Canada-Russia Series.

The first time Vanoosten officiated a hockey game, he was 12 years old.

“I was very nervous because I didn’t know where to stand,” he said in a story posted on Hockey Canada’s website. “I was terrified. It’s funny because the second and third game was night-and-day from that first game, where I was nervous, and afraid to make that first penalty call or that first offside call.”

The Hockey Canada Officiating Program (HCOP) gives anyone who is interested an opportunity to officiate the sport of hockey.

“The HCOP offers six levels of officiating that provide basic to extensive training for those interested in officiating,” Hockey Canada said in a press release. For more details about the program, visit HockeyCanada.ca.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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