Local youth eying NHL officiating ranks

Wallie Sears
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Sackville’s Logan Bunn is catching the eye of those in the know for his exceptional skills as a hockey official. PHOTO SUBMITTED

The Tantrramar region has produced some great hockey players over the years, most notably Bobby Copp and George Allen from the Port Elgin-Baie Verte area, and now there is a young man showing unlimited potential, not as a player but as an official, who could go on to attain household-name status.

Logan Bunn definitely possesses the physical attributes and those in the know who have observed him in action believe it is only a matter of time, hard work and experience before he reaches a new level.

Once great NHL referee Don Koharski, in his report on Bunn's performance at his training camp, had only positive comments like "excellent forward and backward skater, great positioning, great face-off presence, great judgment on line calls and 'you were my wow factor of the night’."

As a result of his outstanding camp, Bunn subsequently received a letter of congratulations from Quebec Major Junior Hockey league director of officiating, Richard Trottier, in which the Sackville product received a complimentary pass to all league and playoff games after being identified as a potential candidate to become a member of the league's officiating staff sometime in the future.

So Bunn has accepted the offer and meets game officials before each game and arranged to meet them again following the contest, at which time he is permitted to ask questions. During the games he sits with supervisory staff and discusses action on the ice, which allows him to absorb and learn more than would otherwise be possible. It is also possible he may be selected to participate in a Combines event should he be recommended by regional director of officiating Tim Skinner of Moncton.

The youthful Sackville official, just 17 but standing 6"3" and weighing 200 pounds, began his new career path a couple of years ago after responding to a call by the local minor hockey association for help. He had played through the system and began blowing the whistle with the novice group and has worked his way up from there to the point where he is now working the lines in junior B games in Nova Scotia and doing high school and triple A midget contests in New Brunswick as well as high school matches.

In order to move up to officiate in the Maritime Junior Hockey League, Junior A, he must upgrade his qualifications from three to four. This will require more experience and perhaps attendance at a few more training camps.

But regardless, Bunn has dedicated his life to improvement with his short-term goal being selected to work games in the Q league and subsequently make it all the way to “The Show”, the NHL.

Bunn says he has learned a good deal from Jason Bartlett, with whom he has worked several games. He has also learned to "tune out" the railbirds whose goal seems to be to discourage young men from doing their job on the ice.

Hockey fans may recall the loud lunged and boisterous fans who poured out invective on such former Sackville officials as John MacNeil and Harvey Gilmour, but they merely shrugged it off, realizing the type of individuals who would do such things. In recognition of such unruly behaviour the N.B. Hockey Association has made it mandatory for parents to complete an on-line course on proper etiquette before they are permitted into rinks, while their children are being banned from play if the parents do not complete the short program.

Bunn says he has been the target of some taunts but quickly learned to look the other way. He says he receives some good-natured joshing at school but does not officiate Tantramar games so it is all in fun. There is also the fact of his size and that he plays on both sides of the ball as a lineman with the Titan football team.

Due to graduate in June, he is considering taking a year off to upgrade his hockey officiating skills before deciding on what direction to pursue education-wise.

Another highlight of his brief career to date was officiating a game at the AAA midget level in Moncton with four of his schoolmates starting for Moncton.

Tim Skinner says he is impressed with the confidence and commitment being shown by Bunn.

"He is doing a great job, partly due to his love of the game of hockey,” he notes.

Skinner says the young official shows good skills and personality, which translates into unlimited potential, adding that he has already been identified by the Q league as a future prospect.

"It's just a matter of timing," says Skinner, "and if he dedicates his life to the sport he could easily move up in the ranks over the next three or four y ears.  He definitely has the tools to do the job."

Meanwhile, Craig Sloan, the referee-in-chief for minor hockey in Cumberland County, says he can't find a single negative when describing Bunn.

"This mature young man does whatever he is asked without question from peewee through junior B and could be in for a nice long and successful career as an on-ice official," says Sloan. "Any advice I would have for him would be to complete his schooling, hit the weight room and work hard at improving and he will definitely go far."

Organizations: NHL, Maritime Junior Hockey League, Junior A, N.B. Hockey Association AAA

Geographic location: Moncton, Port Elgin-Baie Verte, Nova Scotia New Brunswick Cumberland County

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