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Nov. 2, 2016

Andrew Coxhead and Jared McIsaac aren’t the only Nova Scotians on the ice at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge this week.

Halifax referee Chris Ivanko was selected as an official for the tournament that is being held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. from October 30-November 5.

The 26-year old Ivanko is relatively new to the world of officiating. After spending three seasons with the Truro Bearcats of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League (MJAHL) between 2007-2010 and two more with Dalhousie University’s men’s team between 2012-2014, Ivanko decided to don the stripes.

“Once I was finished [at Dalhousie], I told myself that I was going to give it a try and see what happens and the opportunities came. I got hired by the Quebec league (QMJHL) after one year of doing it full-time and what I realized was that I can do this and hopefully I can go all the way,” Ivanko said before leaving for the tournament last week.

Aside from his skating ability on the ice, Ivanko says there are some other aspects of his former game that have prepared him for officiating.

“I was considered ‘the rat’ as a player so I know the tendencies of a lot of players out there and I feel like I’m always a play ahead of them and I know what they’re going to do so that’s the biggest advantage I have as an official,” Ivanko said with a laugh.

Now Ivanko has an opportunity to put those skills to work at an event that has hosted more than 1,600 NHL draft picks over the past 30 years.

“It just goes to show that Hockey Nova Scotia has confidence in me to represent the branch and you know, I’m looking forward to every opportunity that’s coming at me so I’m looking forward to it.

“I love the game of hockey, I love what refereeing has given me," Ivanko said. "I don’t think that the guys always realize that [the officials] are a third team and you do the same things that you did when you were playing: There are long road trips. You’re working out. You’re staying fit.”

And he has some advice for other players who might be coming to the end of their playing careers.

"I encourage any ex-player who has played junior or university hockey to give officiating a shot. The opportunities are endless, you meet some great people and you always have the best seat in the house."

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