Six new officials – two referees and four linesmen – will be joining the NHL ranks for the 2017-18 season.
Corey Syvret #42*
Syvret, 28, always dreamed of making it to the NHL, just not as an official. The 6’2″ defenseman was a sixth-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers in 2007. After his OHL career ended, he headed to the ECHL where he spent most of his professional career, save for a handful of AHL games with the Rochester Americans, Portland Pirates, and Toronto Marlies. Syvret was part of the Alaska Aces team that claimed the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Championship in 2014.
He attended the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, which looks to transition former players to officials. After a successful camp, the NHL opted to give him a shot. He made his officiating debut in a preseason game between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers on September 19, 2017 alongside veteran referee Brad Watson. That was the first game Syvret had ever officiated at any level. He’ll work two more this preseason.
“It’s hard to think of — sink or swim right off the bat,” Syvret told the London Free Press. “A lot of guys who have been officiating for a long time will have their backs up at this, but they’re going to throw me into some hot water, no doubt.”
Syvret is expected to be working primarily in the OHL and/or AHL for 2017-18.
Reid Anderson #49
Anderson, 28, worked in the WHL and AHL last season. He’s already made his mark.
Andrew Smith #51
Smith joins the NHL as a full-time linesman for the 2017-18 season. He attended the NHL’s Officiating Camp in 2016, jumping right from camp into the OHL as a linesman. Smith worked the league final and Memorial Cup in 2017. As a teenager, Smith began officiating — something he kept doing even as his playing career took him from the Kitchener Minor Hockey Association to the Ontario Hockey Association’s Elmira Sugar Kings, and later to the University of Waterloo.
“Everything I did in life was surrounded by this one goal,” he told the Waterloo Region Record. “I’ve always wanted to strive to be an NHL official.”
Libor Suchanek #60
Suchanek is making the jump from across the pond, leaving the Czech Republic to spend a full season in North America. He’ll be splitting time between the AHL and NHL for 2017-18. He made his AHL debut in February, working a handful of games before returning to Europe. He has quickly worked his way up the international officiating ranks, having officiated the 2015 U18 Division III World Championship, the 2016 U18 World Championship, and the 2016 Karjala Tournament, before manning the lines for the World Cup and the World Juniors. He’s also officiated in the Champions Hockey League and on the Euro Hockey Tour over the past few seasons.
For the first time ever, the NHL now has two non-North-American officials on its roster at the same time: Suchanek and Russian referee Evgeny Romasko, who’s also on an NHL/AHL contract. Only one other NHL official, referee Marcus Vinnerborg (2010-2012), was born and trained outside of the US and Canada. Referees Frank Udvari and Malcolm Ashford and linesman Jerry Pateman were all born in Europe but began their officiating careers in North America
Travis Gawryletz #78*
Gawryletz is following in his older brother’s footsteps. Brandon joined the NHL in 2015 and has gone on to become a full-time linesman. Now Travis, 31, is hoping to do the same. The younger Gawryletz was an eight-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. After playing college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth, he went on to play in the ECHL, AHL, and in Europe. Once his playing career came to a close, he made the jump to officiating, working in the WHL. Gawryletz suited up for his first AHL game in March.
James Tobias #61*
The West Seneca, New York, native worked 20 games in the AHL last season and has also officiated NCAA and NWHL games.
All six have already seen preseason action.
Best of luck to the latest recruits to join the NHL officiating lineup.
* Syvret, Gawryletz, and Tobias are pending confirmation from the league. Officials not included on officiating roster, but have officiated preseason NHL games.