“Obviously, you watch these guys on TV every night, but being able to spend time with them, hear their point of view on certain things, it kind of reminds you that they’re all humans,” said Bell, who started officiating at 13, but is unusual in that he didn’t play hockey first. “Even though they’re on TV, they’re still human, they still went up through the ranks as I’m doing now.”
Through last season, Bell was working mostly junior hockey and some NCAA Division III games, but he has since started working ECHL and even American Hockey League games this season, in addition to adding United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League junior games, as well as his first Division I college game.
“This year has kind of been a breakout year, but I love being on the ice and I love officiating,” he said. “So it was easy for me to want to work those games and get better.”
For any young officials about to get their chance to participate in the program this season, Greenen has some advice.
“I would say, make sure you have some questions written before, because probably once you get there, you might forget them,” she said. “So go in with some questions and nothing’s stupid, ever. They’ve all been there, they had to start somewhere. Just take in what they have to say and kind of apply it to your games.”
And the connections they make through the program really might endure. Greenen crossed paths with Rooney again last summer at the Advanced Officiating Symposium in Minnesota. He was one of the speakers at the symposium and she got to talk to him again a little bit afterwards.
And Bell ended up connecting again with Murphy, who was an instructor last summer at a USA Hockey officiating camp, and the two have since forged an ongoing friendship.