|Liefke lacing up for RBC Cup|
KAMLOOPS – Brandon Liefke and Ryan Dawson are overagers, but they still get a chance to skate in the Royal Bank Cup in Victoria.
Liefke, 25, who was born and raised in Vernon, and now works in Kamloops, will be working his second RBC Cup as a linesman. His first appearance was in 2006, in Prince George.
This year’s national junior A hockey championship will be the first for 21-year-old Dawson.
Six linesmen from the B.C. Hockey League were selected as part of the officiating team for the event — and getting named was an honour for both Kamloops men in stripes.
It rewards officials for sterling seasons on the ice.
Both Liefke and Dawson began officiating at a young age, using it as way of making a little spending money during their teen years.
As they got older, they wanted to stay involved with the sport and started taking it more seriously.
Both started officiating in the BCHL in their late teens — and both spent the past season working games in junior A and in the Western Hockey League. They lined the controversial Game 2 in the Doyle Cup, where Liefke was manhandled by Elias Grossmann of the Grande Prairie Storm, April 18 in Vernon.
Needless to say, the tandem has dreams of being linesmen at the highest-level possible, whether it be at in the NHL or covering an Olympic game.
But first, they will have to get through the nationals in Victoria.
Dawson and Liefke will have their schedules shortly after arriving in Victoria and will work some of the round-robin games starting Saturday.
They will be evaluated during these games and, based on assessment of their work, will get more games as the playoffs continue through to the semifinals and championship.
Liefke knows what to expect after working the round-robin and a semifinal game at the Prince George event three years ago.
Chances are they won’t work many games together at the Bear Mountain Arena.
Instead, they will be paired with officials they haven’t seen often during the season.
This method gives officials an opportunity to see different styles and learn from each other.
“You pick up different things and learn from them and they learn from you,” said Dawson. “You adjust and work to the best of your ability.”
One area of officiating that has changed through the years is training and development.
At all games in the BCHL and the WHL, there is a supervisor in the building watching the game — and he always has notes for officials to help them improve.
“We get video of ways to better ourselves,” said Liefke. “It just means there is an extra set of eyes.”
“We don’t get to do instant replay in our head and the eyes in the sky can rewind and see what you should have done and let you know how to improve yourselves.”
Living in Kamloops puts the two in an area where they get to work many games, mainly in Merritt, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Penticton and Westside.
Neither has a desire to add an orange stripe to their shirts. It’s not that they don’t like refereeing, but being linemen has led to numerous opportunities.
“We’re just a part of a team. We each have our duties. No one position is better than the other,” said Liefke.
In 2006, Liefke had the opportunity to work two exhibition games during the World Junior Hockey Championship in Kamloops.
“It was the fastest games I’d ever worked,” he said. “To be on the ice with some of those excellent players was an honour and now we’re seeing some of them in the NHL.”