Even the NHL officials sometimes need to make a call up from the minors.
Linesman Bevan Mills will be making his NHL debut tonight when the Anaheim Ducks host the Montreal Canadiens. He’ll take the ice alongside fellow linesman Brian Murphy and referees Brad Watson and Gord Dwyer.
The Surrey, B.C., native first donned the stripes at a young age while still playing competitively.
“I began officiating when I was 12 with my local association, Surrey Minor,” Mills told Hockey Canada. “My grandfather, who was once an official, and my parents suggested it was a great way to get extra ice to improve my skating and an opportunity to better learn the rules of the game. After attending my local referee clinic, I started working minor hockey games and tournaments.”
Mills, 28, worked his way up to the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), where he was awarded the Brad Lazarowich Award as the BCHL’s top linesman in 2013. He’s also spent the past eight years officiating in the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he’s patrolled the bluelines for the past eight seasons.
“The first thing I think of with Bevan is the way he approached the game,” said BCHL director of officiating Derek Adams. “He was always very respectful. He obviously had a real strong upbringing; he’s just a quality guy that worked hard but more than anything, he was just the most professional kid you could imagine.
“He was always someone you could trust in big games.”
Mills has certainly seen his share of big games.
He’s worked two Memorial Cup Finals, taking the ice in Saskatoon in 2013 and Red Deer in 2016. He’s also officiated internationally, handling the 2015 IIHF World Juniors in Toronto/Montreal and the 2015 IIHF World Championships – Pool A in the Czech Republic.
From the NHLOA:
Mills attributes his success to those who have helped him along the way. People like the BCHL’s Peter Zerbinos and Frank Broeders who helped get him started and push him in the right direction, as well as WHL Director of Officiating, Kevin Muench, who has spent time supervising and developing Mills to be the linesman he is today.
The WHL season had already started when Mills got the call that he was being promoted to the NHL as 40/40 contracted linesman, meaning that his schedule will likely be half NHL games and the other half in the American Hockey League (AHL) to perfect his craft. Despite not being around for the NHL officiating training camp in September to get acquainted with his new found colleagues, the number of phone calls and text messages to congratulate him on making the team has made him feel quite welcome.
“I have always dreamed of being in the National Hockey League,” Mills said in 2015. “When I realized I wasn’t going to get there as a player, I shifted my focus to serving the game as an official. I hope to one day get the call from the NHL to have the opportunity to be on the ice as an official with the best players in the world.”
That call came this season. His debut comes tonight.
Best of luck to Bevan Mills on the ice tonight and throughout his NHL career!