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Friendships, Development Keep Bone Coming Back as Referee

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 03/02/23, 1:15PM EST


Was selected for recent Ontario Winter Games in February

When he realized his minor hockey playing days were coming to an end, Paul Bone wanted to find a way to stay in the game in an active role on the ice. After attending an OMHA Entry Level Clinic in Trenton in 2011, he earned his stripes as an official and has been refereeing ever since.

The Oshawa native is currently a Level 3 official will take any assignment given to him.

“I’m a huge believer that you’re never better than the level of hockey that you’re assigned,” said Bone. “If there’s a game that comes my way and I’m available, I’ll gladly accept it. Whether it’s a House League on a Sunday morning or it’s an eight-o’clock Friday night U18 AAA game, I’m above no level of hockey. I’m just there to help the kids and do my job.”

One of his most recent assignments was the Ontario Winter Games in February. Held every two years, over 2,200 participants (athletes, coaches, and officials) took part in the event in Renfrew. The Barrie Jr. Colts and Niagara North Stars U14 AAA teams represented the OMHA in hockey this season, both making it to the semifinals.

Along with the Games, Bone was previously selected for OMHA Championships and the Showcase event.

Bone says his judgement and awareness of the game flow have improved since he started and it has helped him slow the game down.

Over his ten years as an official, Bone has made lifelong friends as the ‘third team on the ice’. He notes the similarities to the playing teams, as the officials share their own dressing room, get ready together, and work as a team on the ice.

The refereeing circle is so close that Bone knows Jenn Berezowski and her family, and it was her husband Sheldon who Bone credits as helping him develop as an official.

“The friendships that you make through reffing are a unique style that you don’t really get anywhere else.”

One of Bone’s favourite parts of officiating is seeing some players grow over the years to become names that we now recognize. He remembers seeing local players like the Ontario Hockey League’s Gage Heyes, Carter Bickle and Nathan Poole playing with the Minor Generals in Oshawa, to visiting players like Quinton Byfield, Owen Beck and Connor McMichael coming to the rink.

“It’s fun to see kids and their development. When you watch a kid that’s played at the AAA level in U11, and you see his progression and see how he gets year to year. By the time U16 rolls around, you can tell that kid is going to be in the OHL. You sort of feel like you were part of that journey from a bystander’s point of view.”

Bone has made a commitment to himself to referee every game as if he’s being watched by somebody important. After the COVID shutdown, this new approach has been noticed by his supervisors. It’s advice he tries to share with new officials.

“You care about the product you put out. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

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