Corey Syvret always wanted to make it to the NHL.  He just never dreamed he’d do it as an official.

Syvret will make his NHL debut tonight in Buffalo, taking the ice alongside referee Dean Morton and linesmen Trent Knorr and Libor Suchanek.  The former Florida Panthers draft pick spent time in the ECHL and AHL as a player before retiring in 2017 and making the jump to officiating. He made his debuts in both the ECHL and AHL earlier this season.

Syvret credits his fitness and skating for helping ease the transition.

“The kids are so quick up top now,” he said, “with two or three cross overs or cuts I can get myself up to a pretty high speed and still keep everything in front of me.”

From the NHLOA:

Tonight in Buffalo NY, AHL/NHL Referee Corey Syvret will be making his NHL debut when the Ottawa Senators will be in town to play against the Sabres at the KeyBank Center. The Millgrove, ON native will be working his first game with fellow referee Dean Morton while linesmen Trent Knorr and Libor Suchanek will be completing the officiating crew.

The Millgrove, ON native is a former Canadian professional hockey player. He was selected in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers in the 6th round (#181 overall). The former defenseman was also a first-round draft pick of the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) back in the summer of 2005. He spent a total of five seasons in the OHL and played for two different teams (London Knights & Guelph Storm). After his OHL days ended, he spent the following seven seasons in the minor professional leagues, spending most of his playing time in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). He dressed in a total of 279 ECHL games with a total of five different teams; the Kalamazoo Wings, Trenton Titans, Alaska Aces, Florida Everblades and the Atlanta Gladiators. He was part of the Alaska Aces team roster that won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Championship in 2014. During his professional days, he also played in a handful of American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Rochester Americans, Portland Pirates and the Toronto Marlies. Syvret decided that the 2016-17 season was going to be his last as a player after a season that saw him being traded from Florida to Atlanta in the ECHL. His desire to stay involved in the game combined with the fact that he had been sold the idea of given officiating a try by some current and ex-NHL officials over the past few summers, made him decide to trade his stick for a whistle. He first attended the Don Koharski’s officiating camp in Hamilton, ON where he wore the “reffing” gear for the first time. He immediately fell in love with the new challenge and decided to give it a serious try, spending the next few months studying the rulebook, getting physically and mentally prepared. He attended the NHL Scouting Officiating Combine in Buffalo, a camp that looks to transition former players to officials that same summer and made a great impression on the recruiting staff present at the camp. NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom offering him a NHL Minor-Leagues Referee contract a couple of weeks later.

The NHL has been working hard to identify potential officials, both those who come up through traditional channels as well as former high-level players who can make the jump to officiating, via the NHL Exposure Combine.

“They want guys that are passionate about it,” Syvret told The Athletic. “[Guys] that are going to be in shape, take pride in their skating and want to make a difference to the game.”

Corey Syvret hopes to do just that.


Congrats to referee Corey Syvret on his NHL debut!