What’s black and white and red all over? A flock of referees breaking up a gruesome bench brawl.
All jokes aside, without the presence of trained officials in minor hockey, things would be very different and considerably more difficult.
Officials not only keep players safe, they regulate the flow of contests, administer discipline and are experts of the game.
Ryan Rai is a 20-year old linesman and referee who can often be found patrolling the ice at Cowichan Lake Sports Arena.
He’s been around officiating for several years.
“When I was younger I loved the game. I like to help out. It’s fun and I enjoy it, as well as hockey,” said Rai.
For Rai, hockey is a lifestyle. Aside from officiating in his spare time, he works at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena and is frequently lacing up the skates for scrimmage at the arena.
The arena is Rai’s personal haven.
“It’s really important to me. This is a small town and this is Lake Cowichan basically — hockey. I love hockey, I love the arena, I’ve been working here since I was 14 years old and playing here since I was four and I’m always here” said Rai.
Lakers blood clearly runs through this hockey enthusiast’s veins.
“I played all my minor hockey here all the way from when I was four years old until my last year of midget,” said Rai.
Fortunately Rai has not had to break up any serious fights or bench brawls this season in Lake Cowichan, Rai has in the past. The prospect of flying knuckles does not seem to faze him.
“It’s interesting sometimes. Sometimes you have players throwing punches at you but most times you get in there and grab one guy they stop,” described Rai.
Currently enrolled in a recreation and sport management program at Vancouver Island University in Duncan, Rai is learning how to do programming, marketing and coordinating for large-scale events. It appears that Rai’s arena lifestyle has influenced his career path, too.
He’s also a big fan of the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s new renovations.
“I love the new upgrades,” he added.