The NHL has brought on four new officials for the 2015-16 season. Referee Jake Brenk joins the crew, as do linesmen Devin Berg, Brandon Gawryletz, and Ryan Gibbons.
Brenk, 33, spent time in the AHL and ECHL last season. Prior to that, Brenk officiated in the Central Hockey League, working the 2014 CHL Final. In August of 2014, he participated in the 2014 NHL Exposure Combine, which looked to develop officials and promote the transition of former players into officials. The native of Detroit Lakes, MN, becomes the eighth US-born official among the 42 current NHL referees.
Brenk was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 5th round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He spent four years at Minnesota State University – Mankato before making the jump to the ECHL. After parts of two seasons in the ECHL, Brenk spent a handful of years in Europe before returning to North America and trading in his stick for a whistle.
Brenk will wear #42.
Berg, 33, comes to the NHL from the Ontario Hockey League, where he’s spent the past two seasons. He manned the lines for the 2015 OHL Finals and also officiated the 2015 CHL Top Prospects Game. Berg took part in the 2015 NHL Amateur Exposure Combine, where he helped mentor younger players interested in beginning a career in officiating. For more on Berg, read our previous write-up on his hire by the NHL.
Berg will suit up as #87.
Gawryletz joins the NHL from the American Hockey League and ECHL. The 32-year-old from Trail, BC, has spent the past few seasons in the AHL. He also worked in the Central Hockey League, handling their Cup Finals in 2013 and 2014.
Gawryletz, six-foot-zero and 194-pounds, played junior hockey in the BCHL with his hometown team, the Trail Smoke Eaters, as well as with the Langley Hornets. It was in Trail that he posted career highs with six goals, 27 assists, and 122 penalty minutes in 58 games. Gawryletz moved on to play college hockey at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks.
Gawryletz also attended the 2014 NHL Exposure Camp. He will wear #64.
Gibbons, a Level 4 official from Vancouver, BC, worked in the AHL in 2014-15, making it as far as the playoffs. He’s also manned the lines in the WHL since 2011. Gibbons previously worked the IIHF’s 2014 World Junior A Challenge, the 2014 Royal Bank Cup, and the 2013 Memorial Cup.
The former Seattle Thunderbird was a sixth-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2003. The six-foot-four, 210-pound Gibbons went on to play three seasons in the ECHL before his playing career came to a close.
Gibbons will hit the ice as #58.
Watch for these four to find their way into some preseason games with hopes of making their respective NHL debuts later this season.
While Brenk, Berg, Gawryletz, and Gibbons are new to the officiating roster, another official will be seeing quite a bit more ice time in the National Hockey League and American Hockey League.
The NHL welcomes referee Evgeny Romasko to its roster for the full 2015-16 season. Romasko, 33, spent last season splitting time between the AHL and the KHL, where he’s officiated for the past few seasons. After working five games in the NHL last season, the Russian referee has committed to North America full-time for the upcoming season.
Brenk and Romasko fill the void left by the retirement of long-time referee Paul Devorski. Referee Darcy Burchell, coming off his third part-time season with the NHL, has been released.
Linesman Jean Morin was the only departure among the blueliners; he retired after 24 seasons.
Congratulations and best of luck to the NHL’s newest officials – Jake Brenk, Devin Berg, Brandon Gawryletz, and Ryan Gibbons – and continued success to Evgeny Romasko.
(Featured images courtesy Les Stockton.)