Tears were flowing after Greg Devorski retreated to his basement bedroom.
The distance from St. Jacob’s to Guelph, Ontario, is 18 miles, but one night in 1986 the trip home seemed to take an eternity, filled with doubts about and second-guessing of his work officiating a midget hockey game in which players had become careless and disrespectful when it grew one-sided.
The rougher the game got, the more penalties the young referee saw and called. And the more he called, the angrier the parents, particularly of the aggressive losing side, got. They barked at the 17-year-old official, harangued him during the game, as he exited the ice and even on the way out of the arena.
“It got really personal,” Devorski said three decades later. “I wondered on the way home if I’d done that bad a job. I was really questioning myself. I remember walking through the back door and my mom and dad were sitting at the kitchen table and they asked about the game and I never answered.
“I just went down to my room and my dad came down. I was crying my eyes out, worried that I’d done something wrong, and he looked at me and said, ‘Hey, this is only the first one. There will be a lot of tougher ones than this.’ “
And then Ontario officiating legend Bill Devorski shut his son’s door.
Read the full story at NHL.com, including Devo’s daily routines, on-ice chatter, outdoor games, and laundry details you never wanted to know.