You always remember your first.
Referee Jake Brenk made his NHL debut last night, hitting the ice to officiate Thursday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes. He worked alongside referee Francois St. Laurent and linesmen Shane Heyer and Don Henderson.
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 and St. Laurent both raised their arms for the first penalty call of the game, a trip by Oilers winger Nail Yakupov. St. Laurent deferred to Brenk.
“Edmonton, number 10,” announced Brenk. “Two minutes tripping”
Brenk also made the second call, a trip by Arizona’s Jordan Martinook.
It was a promising start, with Brenk actively involved and well-positioned for most of the game. He found himself in traffic a few times – not surprising given the pace of the NHL game compared to the AHL, where he’s been working this season. All in all, a good first game for Brenk — hopefully the first of many.
Earlier in his hockey career, Brenk one day thought he might take the ice with the Edmonton Oilers. The referee, then a forward, was selected by Edmonton in the fifth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Though he may have envisioned wearing a different jersey – and holding a stick instead of a whistle – Brenk finally made it to the NHL. He did so right alongside the team that drafted him.
Best of luck to Jake Brenk on his NHL career!