Meet the new guys!  The NHL has hired five officials for the 2023-24 season: referees Riley Brace, Graedy Hamilton, Stephen Hiff, and Michael Sullivan, and linesman Brandon Grillo.


Graedy Hamilton (#41), as we previously reported, has been signed to an NHL/AHL contract for the upcoming season. The British Columbia native spent last season officiating in the American Hockey League and the Western Hockey League, as well as working the IIHF’s 2023 World Junior Championship and the CHL’s Top Prospects Game.  The 23-year-old referee has spent two seasons in the AHL and four in the WHL. He also worked six seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).  Hamilton was recognized as BC Hockey’s Official of the Year last season. 

Riley Brace (#49) is a former ECHL player who made the transition to officiating after attending the NHL Exposure Combine.  Brace worked in the AHL and ECHL last season, including at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City.  He played four seasons in the AHL, totaling five goals, 14 assists, and 59 penalty minutes in 74 games with the Worcester Sharks, Iowa Wild, and Chicago Wolves. Brace also spent three seasons in the ECHL, suiting up for the San Francisco Bulls, Ontario Reign, and Wheeling Nailers – including one big Game 7 overtime goal that sent his team to the Kelly Cup Final:  


Michael Sullivan (#47) – not to be confused with the Penguins’ head coach – played his college hockey at Bowling Green State University before heading over to play three seasons in Italy and one in the UK’s Elite League.  He began officiating in the AHL and OHL in 2019 

“I have wanted to be a referee for a while now, but I never really knew how to get started,” Sullivan told his former team, the Dundee Stars. “Three years ago I was lucky enough to attend the NHL Exposure Combine for potential/prospective officials. I loved the whole experience and realised that I wanted to really give officiating a shot.”

“Officiating is definitely something that I would love to do for the rest of my life… To be able to be around the game everyday, and make a great career out of it, would be a dream. At the moment, I am just making sure that every game I get in the AHL, OHL, and Minor Hockey, I work hard and do my best to referee a fair game. The game has given me so much, and I owe it to the game to do that.”


Brandon Grillo (#75), a linesman in the AHL and ECHL, worked the 2023 World Juniors. From the ECHL:

After a four-year collegiate career on the Western Michigan University ACHA team, Grillo played one season of professional hockey for Sudrets HC of the Swedish Second Division. The following season, he served as a graduate assistant for the Clarkson University men’s ice hockey team.
Grillo became involved in officiating during Covid, working local games to gain experience. The following summer, he attended the NHL Exposure Combine and was hired by the United States Hockey League. In addition to working games in both the ECHL and AHL, he was selected to work the 2023 World Junior Championship, and earned an assignment working the gold medal game.


Stephen Hiff (#46) spent last season officiating in the American Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League; it was his third season in the AHL and second in the OHL. 


The new referees backfill two spots created by the retirements of Marc Joannette and Ian Walsh (filled by the promotion of refs Carter Sandlak and Brandon Schrader), and two previously held by refs Conor O’Donnell and Reid Anderson, who are not returning to the NHL.  Brace, Hamilton, Hiff, and Sullivan will work primarily in the AHL this season. 

Grillo, who is expected to split time between the two leagues, fills the vacancy created by the promotion of linesman Dan Kelly.


Congratulations to Riley Brace, Brandon Grillo, Graedy Hamilton, Stephen Hiff, and Michael Sullivan on joining the NHL!