By Jim Mason/OJHL Communications
The last time Pierre-Luc Lurette was at the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge in Trenton he was a competitor.
Six years ago, he represented the Maritime Junior Hockey League in the five-league, three-day event.
Fast-forward to this week and he’s an official, a linesperson out of the Ontario Hockey Association, keeping order in the faceoff circle and beyond at the same event.
His memories of the Eastern Canada Cup are golden.
“I remember a lot of great times with the guys I was there with,” he told the OJHL, “and I remember there being a lot of talent in the tournament. And I remember that ice surface in that Trenton rink being super tiny. Lots of great memories.”
The transition from skating on the Olympic-sized ice pad in New Brunswick to the much smaller Duncan McDonald Memorial Community Gardens “was a shock.”
Before officiating at the cup, including three games today, he had to use that knowledge to figure out how to dodge players and “not get hit with pucks,” he said with a laugh.
The native of Val d’Amour, NB played the maximum five seasons with the nearby Campbellton Tigers of the MJHL. The captain of the Tigers in his final season also played a handful of games for the Quebec Remparts and Saint John Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Lurette followed that up with four years in U SPORTS, playing for veteran Ontario Junior Hockey League coach Curtis Hodgins with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks in Oshawa.
“My first time in Ontario was in Trenton,” said Lurette, who finished school last spring. “My second time was during my visit to the school.”
“It was really different (moving here). But everyone on the team was really good and cool.”
That transition included learning to speak English on the fly, both in the classroom and on the ice. Four years later, his command of the language is near immaculate.
Lurette played 17 games with Evansville in the Southern Professional Hockey League last spring and signed to play pro in the UK this season.
But an email from Ontario Tech changed all that.
The school offers funds to students who want to try officiating or coaching.
“I figured why not give it a shot and give it my all,” he said.
He received positive feedback after attending the NHL referees combine in Buffalo last summer.
His motto: “Get to the next level”
“It would be awesome (to officiate in the NHL), but I know not many people make it. But if an opportunity happened, I’d jump on it.”
He has age (25) and size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds-plus) on his side.
For now, he’s working Jr. C and OJHL Jr. A games plus minor hockey in Durham Region.
The Bowmanville resident stays in shape by hitting the gym and doing landscaping work.
What has he gleaned from his first year of officiating?
“Well, I learned that the players yell a lot,” he said laughing. “ I was guilty of that, too, honestly. But I really didn’t realize how hard officiating really is. You have to skate with the players for 60 minutes and we don’t get to go sit on the bench.”
“It’s amazing how dedicated and how hard-working the officials are. The other thing I realize is that refs can’t see everything. I would whine to the ref about things when I played, but now I realize why things happen.”