PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Wednesday announced that linesman Brad Phillips is the 2012-13 recipient of the Ryan Birmingham Memorial Award.
The award honors an On-Ice Official for his contributions and dedication to the league officiating staff and is determined in voting of ECHL On-Ice Officials. It is named in honor of ECHL linesman Ryan Birmingham who tragically lost his life in an automobile accident in May 2007.
“I would like to thank my fellow officials for selecting me as the recipient of the 2012-13 Birmingham award,” Phillips said. “Receiving the Birmingham Award is one of the greatest achievements of my officiating career. Over my 1,000-plus games in the ECHL, I have been dedicated to providing the best hockey experience for the players, coaches and fans alike, as well as mentoring younger officials to elevate them to their highest potential on and off the ice. To be recognized for this service is a great honor.”
Phillips worked his 1,000th, and final, ECHL game on March 16, 2013 in Toledo, joining current ECHL Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Ernst, who was a referee in the league from 1991-2006, and former ECHL linesman Norm Eberle, who worked in the league from 1989-2006, as the only officials to reach the 1,000 game milestone in the 25-year history of the ECHL.
Phillips, who worked 15 seasons in the ECHL, worked his first game in October 1998 along with referee Bryan Graham and linesman Nygel Pelletier. He worked the 2001 ECHL All-Star Game in Arkansas and worked nine Kelly Cup Finals, the most of any linesman in ECHL history.
“This award is a very fitting end to Brad’s on-ice career in the ECHL,” Ernst said. Having become just the third official to work 1,000 games, and now to have his fellow officials bestow on him the Birmingham Award, is a tremendous honor. We Thank Brad for all his hard work throughout his career and congratulate him on winning this award.”
The 2007-08 edition of the ECHL Rule Book was dedicated to the memory of Birmingham, who was featured on the back cover, and ECHL on-ice officials wore a commemorative patch on their left shoulder that has 60, which is the number that Birmingham wore, and the initials RJB.
Birmingham began his officiating career when he was 12 years old in the Southgate Minor Hockey Association and worked his way into the USA Hockey Junior Officiating Development Program in 2003. Birmingham was hired as a full-time linesman by the ECHL in 2006 and worked 83 games in the regular season and four games in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, including his final game, Florida at Charlotte, on April 17, 2007.
There are 26 former ECHL officials scheduled to work as part of the NHL officiating team in 2012-13 with referees Darcy Burchell, Francis Charron, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Trent Knorr, Mike Leggo, Dave Lewis, T.J. Luxmore, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Graham Skilliter, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
Ryan Birmingham Memorial Award Winners