Joe Ernst, who was the first inductee in the Referee/Linesman category, is celebrating his 28th season in the ECHL in 2018-19. Ernst spent 16 seasons as a referee with the ECHL beginning in 1991-92, and after retiring was named Assistant Director of Officiating. He was named Vice President of Hockey Operations prior to the 2011-12 season and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations in 2018. Ernst officiated 1,061 regular-season games and over 200 postseason games, and is the only referee in ECHL history to have worked over 1,000 games. He was a member of the NHL Trainee Program for seven seasons and worked preseason games in the National Hockey League, as well as games in the American Hockey League and International Hockey League. Ernst was selected to work the 1999 ECHL All-Star Game and worked nine ECHL Finals series (1993-1995 Riley Cup Finals and 2002-2007 Kelly Cup Finals).