Former ECHL referees a big part of Game 7’s

PRINCETON, N.J. – There were two game 7’s in professional hockey last night, and all four referees who worked the two games are former ECHL referees.

In the National Hockey League, Dan O’Rourke and Chris Rooney were the referees for the New York Rangers 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

O’Rourke played in the ECHL with Erie and Louisiana from 1993-97 before joining the league’s officiating staff. He joined the NHL in 1999-00, and was selected to work the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

Rooney, who was a referee in the 1998 Kelly Cup Finals, has been in the NHL since the 2000-01 season. He worked the 2010 NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston.

In the American Hockey League, Jean Hebert and Graham Skilliter were the referees for the St. John’s IceCaps 3-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Hebert began his professional career as a part-time referee in the ECHL in 2007-08, and worked for the NHL during the 2008 and 2009 preseason as a referee for a rookie tournament with the Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs. He worked his first NHL game on March 30, 2010.

In addition to his experience in the ECHL, Skilliter, who was hired by the NHL prior to this season, also spent six seasons in the Western Hockey League and has also worked internationally at the World University Games, World Under 17 Challenge and World Junior exhibition games. The 26-year-old also worked NHL Rookie Tournaments in Camrose, Alberta, Kitchener, Ontario and Traverse City, Mich.

“It is great to see former ECHL referees succeeding at the next levels of hockey,” said ECHL Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Ernst. “This speaks to the high-quality of officials that the ECHL hires.”

Twenty-four former ECHL officials worked as part of the NHL officiating team in 2011-12 with referees David Banfield, Darcy Burchell, Francis Charron, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Mark Lemelin, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre, Graham Skilliter and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Matt MacPherson, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.