It’s a first for Brandon Blandina.
The 27-year-old will make his NHL officiating debut tonight at Madison Square Garden, working a game between the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.
Blandina will take the ice alongside referee Chris Lee and linesmen Tony Sericolo and Tim Nowak.
From the NHLOA:
Blandina who was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, grew up not too far from there in Centennial, CO where he played his minor hockey. The former forward reached the United States Hockey League (USHL) at the age of 18 when he dressed up for the Indiana Ice during the 2007-2008 season. After his one-year stint in the USHL, Blandina went on to play for the Robert Morris University hockey team over the course of the following four seasons (2008-2012). He graduated in the spring of 2012 from Robert Morris with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management.
He spent the following two seasons in the East Coast Hockey League, playing the 2012-13 season with the Elmira Jackals and the 2013-14 season with the Reading Royals. Once his playing days were over in the summer of 2014, he decided to start an off-ice hockey training center in Pittsburgh, PA, a way for him to stay involved in the game while teaching younger athletes the core essentials of hockey skating and stride technique.
His passion for the game also pushed him to get involved as a hockey assistant coach that year when he joined the Pittsburgh Pens Elite Girl 14U team. He would return at Robert Morris University in the fall of 2016, but this time as a volunteer assistant coach while still running his off-ice hockey training facility. That same season, still trying to get involved in the game as much as he could, he began officiating minor hockey games around the Pittsburgh area.
Blandina who played at Robert Morris University with AHL/NHL referee Furman South, decided in the summer of 2017 to attend the NHL Officials Exposure Combine, trying to replicate the path of his ex-teammate South, who attended the Combine a few years before and where he ended up being hired by the National Hockey League as an official. The NHL as been hosting these annual camps since 2012, offering a path for former college and professional hockey players to become high level professional hockey officials at a faster pace.
He spent the following season working games in the North American Tier III Hockey League (NA3HL) and in the American Hockey League (AHL). He attended the NHL Officials Exposure Combine for a second time in the summer of 2018 where he made again great impression on the NHL recruiting staff who offered him this time a minor leagues referee contract making him the second alumnus from Robert Morris University to be hired by the NHL after referee Furman South.
Congratulations to Brandon Blandina on his NHL debut. All the best on a successful officiating career in the National Hockey League.