A hobby has turned into a career for one Saskatchewan official who will experience a major milestone when he dons the stripes to work as a linesman for the upcoming IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
Tarrington Wyonzek got his start in officiating when he was 10 years old.
“I had a paper route to make some money as a kid,” said Wyonzek. “But all of the elderly people didn’t really like me running around on their lawn in roller blades so I took up officiating.
“For the first couple years it was just kind of to make money and then before I knew it, I realized I was maybe OK at it.”
Turns out, Wyonzek was more than just OK. He has worked notable events such as the world under–17 and –18 tournaments, the Wayne Gretzky Cup, two Memorial Cup tournaments and he will add to his growing resumé when he attends the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) event in Edmonton starting Dec. 26. He said this opportunity means everything to him.
“This has been a goal of mine ever since I got into the Western (Hockey) League and started climbing up the ranks in the officiating world,” said Wyonzek.
“To be able to go out there and skate with some of the best up–and–coming NHL prospects in the world, it’s going to be a great opportunity.”
Kevin Muench, the WHL’s senior director of officiating for over 20 years, said there is a tradition of strong officials in Saskatchewan who have worked internationally. While Wyonzek has been successful at every level of hockey he has worked, Muench said it takes more than just skill to be a good official.
“Tarrington is already an ambassador for Saskatchewan hockey,” said Muench. “He does work instructing sessions and working with on–ice officials. He inspires others because he’s not just a good official, he’s a good person off the ice.”
For young officials from Saskatchewan who will be tuning into the tournament, Wyonzek said he hopes they can see that hard work pays off.
“If you would have told me I was going to work the world juniors when I was 17 or 18, I would have told you there was no way but if you just keep your head down and keep working then anything is possible,” said Wyonzek.
Trent Cey, manager of officiating development for the Saskatchewan Hockey Association has worked with and mentored Wyonzek for many years. He said this tournament is a great opportunity to motivate aspiring officials from the province.
“This just shows that if officiating is something you really want to pursue, there is a lot of opportunities out there,” said Cey.
“This is on a world stage where everyone is usually watching on Boxing Day so to see one of our homegrown work this tournament will be a huge feather in the cap for us and something we can promote to young officials.”
Wyonzek said that with all the uncertainty this year has brought, he is grateful for the opportunity.
“There are thousands of other officials who could have been selected for this tournament so I’m just very grateful they chose me and I’m going to give it absolutely everything I can and represent Saskatchewan,” said Wyonzek.