The BC Hockey League announced today that current NHL referee Kelly Sutherland, former NHL officials Shane Heyer and Jay Sharrers, as well as Big Ten (NCAA) Coordinator of Officials Steve Piotrowski have signed on as development coaches and mentors for the BCHL’s Officiating Program in 2023-24.
The group will work directly with BCHL officials, either attending games or watching video, to help them reach their development potential.
Sutherland, from Richmond, B.C., has been an NHL official since 2000, refereeing in 10 Stanley Cup Finals in his career, as well as multiple international events, including the gold medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“I refereed in the BCHL during the 1990s for seven seasons and the experience I gathered in my time there was instrumental in my career path to the NHL,” said Sutherland. “The style and quality of play provided a great training ground as I pursued my goal of becoming an NHL referee. I look forward to helping out the BCHL officials throughout the upcoming season with any advice I can offer.”
Sharrers, born in New Westminster, but raised in Hope, B.C., became the NHL’s first Black official when he entered the league as a linesman in 1990. He went on to officiate over 1,600 regular season games and over 200 postseason contests, including seven Stanley Cup Finals. He was inducted to the BC Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2020. He currently works as an officiating manager for the NHL, as well as the American Hockey League.
“I’m a proud alumnus of the BC Hockey League,” said Sharrers. “The BCHL is where I got my start in junior hockey. I think it’s a great league for young officials to work and develop their skillset. To be able to help out in the small way that I can is very rewarding and something I look forward to.”
Heyer is from Summerland, B.C. and spent 30 years as an NHL official from 1988 to 2018. He worked over 2,000 games as both a referee and a linesman, as well as 214 playoff games, including six Stanley Cup Finals. He was inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019. Heyer is currently employed by the NHL as an officiating manager.
“I’m a proud graduate of the BC Hockey League,” said Heyer. “I worked there from 1982 to 1988. It’s always exciting when I see other officials come out of the BCHL and advance in the game. I’m honoured to be able to help out young officials in B.C. in any way I can.”
Piotrowski, a former college hockey player at Ferris State University, officiated in the NCAA’s Central Collegiate Hockey Association for 26 years, working 14 NCAA tournaments and six national championship games. He has headed up the Big Ten’s officiating department since 2012.
“I’m excited to assist in the development of young officials in the BC Hockey League,” said Piotrowski. “The BCHL is a very strong feeder for NCAA hockey players and anything I can do to help the overall quality and success of the league will only benefit those players moving on to college hockey.”
Led by the BCHL’s Vice President of Hockey Operations and former NHL official Brad Lazarowich, the league will announce its 2023-24 on-ice officiating staff, as well as the Department of Player Safety staff, in the coming weeks.
“We are thrilled to bring Kelly, Jay, Shane and Steve on board to work with our officials next year,” said Lazarowich. “We couldn’t ask for a more experienced and professional group. Our officials will learn a lot from them and it will help immensely with their development as they work to reach their goals in hockey.”