The World Cup of Hockey, like the World Juniors, is a terrific opportunity for players to show their skills on an international stage. The same can be said for the officials working those tournaments. One linesman made such an impact that he’ll be heading to North American to work a handful of AHL games.
Linesman Libor Suchanek of the Czech Republic will join the American Hockey League next month. Suchanek is expected to each work three games in early February.
Suchanek took part in pre-season camp with the NHL officials in Buffalo prior to the start of the World Cup. He officiated a pre-tournament game between Russia and the Czech Republic with NHL officials Gord Dwyer and Michel Cormier.
Suchanek, 27, has quickly worked his way up the international officiating ranks, having handled 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 for the past few seasons.
He’ll be following in the striped footsteps of Russian referee Evgeny Romasko. Romasko, then a referee in the KHL, came over to North America to officiate in the AHL in 2014-15. After a successful season split between the two leagues, he relocated to the US and became a full-time AHL/NHL official, working the bulk of his schedule in the American League. He’s since gone on to officiate 48 NHL games.
Aside from Romasko, there’s been only one other officials from outside North America. Swedish referee Marcus Vinnerborg officiated 40 NHL games from 2010-2012. Referees Frank Udvari and Malcolm Ashford and linesman Jerry Pateman were all born in Europe but began their officiating careers in North America.
Suchanek is working hard to be the next, and the first from the Czech Republic.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mentioned that Finnish linesman Sakari Suominen would also be working in the AHL. Despite being reported via multiple news outlets within the Czech Republic including NHL.com, it appears this information was inaccurate. While Suominen did participate in both the World Cup and World Juniors – and may be on the NHL’s radar – there are no scheduled plans for him to join the AHL at this time. We apologize for the error, and hope that Suominen will indeed make his way over to work games in North America at some point in the future. All the best to him in his officiating career.