While many Canadians are celebrating Thanksgiving, linesman Julien Fournier will be celebrating a more personal milestone: his first National Hockey League game.
Fournier will make his NHL debut Monday in Ottawa, officiating the matinee matchup between the Senators and the visiting Minnesota Wild. Fournier will be joined on the ice by fellow linesman Scott Cherrey and referees Francis Charron and Francois St. Laurent.
Hired during the offseason, Fournier worked four preseason games in the National Hockey League. He’ll be splitting time this season between the NHL and AHL, where he’s already officiated four games this season. His most recent appearances came this past weekend as he officiated a pair of games between the Binghamton Devils and the Belleville Bulls. Today, Fournier gets the call-up from Belleville to Ottawa.
The rookie linesman grew up just across the river in Gatineau, Quebec.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Fournier, of joining the NHL this past summer. “When I was in the [ECHL], I received an email inviting me to a meeting at the NHL office in Toronto. I was offered a contract in the NHL on a part-time basis. I just finished my official training camp. It was a beautiful moment.”
Fournier has also spent time in the ECHL, where he handled the 2019 Kelly Cup Finals, and in the QMJHL, where he worked 18 games in the 2017-18 season.
“It’s gone faster than I thought, but even if it’s fast, I feel ready,” Fournier told Le Droit earlier this year.
From the NHLOA:
The native of Gatineau, QC started his officiating journey at the early age of 13 in the AHMH (Hull Minor Hockey Association) officiating program to earn a few bucks as a youngster. He would go on and work mostly minor hockey games during his first few years primary due to his young age at the time. His size, presence and his outstanding work as an official were quickly recognized four years later, now being old enough to work higher level of hockey, when he was promoted as a linesman on the Quebec Provincial Officiating Staff.
The former defenseman who had also just started college at that time, chasing his childhood dream of becoming a police officer, worked his way up the provincial officiating system over the following 4 years before finally reaching the Quebec Junior Major Hockey League (QJMHL) as a linesman in the summer of 2017. He was also invited to attend the NHL Officiating Combine that same summer in Buffalo, NY. Fournier found himself at a crossroad then; he had just completed the necessary three years in the Quebec Cegep system to become a policeman and had also completed an university certificate in Industrial Relationships and Human Resources when things started to look good for him in the officiating world! He needed to make a decision between completing the final stage of his law enforcement education and entering the National Police Academy or to see where his officiating career would take him. In order to keep all of his options open, Fournier decided to work the hockey season first and to enter the police academy in the following off-season.
The 2017-18 season ended up being a pivotal season in Fournier’s officiating career as he was invited to join the American Hockey League (AHL) as a linesman, a promotion that would have him being seeing more often by the NHL officiating managers. That Fall, he was also selected to work the World Under 17 Championship in Dawson Creek, BC, a tournament where he ended up dropping pucks in the Gold Medal game. His strong performances that season earned him once again an invitation to the summer NHL Officiating Combine (2018). Fournier went on and completed his police education that off-season by graduating from the National Police Academy in Nicolet, QC.
The following September, Fournier decided to pack his bags and to move to South Carolina after accepting a full-time contract as a linesman in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). He worked the 2018-19 season primary in the ECHL but also skated in the AHL that year. He earned his first IIHF assignment later that season when he was called to work the World Championship Division 1 (Group A) in Grenoble, France. After coming back from his first international assignment that spring and after only one season in the ECHL, Fournier was selected to work the prestigious Kelly Cup Finals in the spring of 2019. He was offered a NHL minor league linesman contract in the summer of 2019.
Congratulations to linesman Julien Fournier on his NHL debut!