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Williams receives 2021-22 Ryan Birmingham Memorial Award


The ECHL announced on Thursday that linesman Christopher Williams has been named the recipient of the 2021-22 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.
“It is a great honor to receive the Ryan Birmingham Memorial Award,” Williams said. “I would like to thank my fellow teammates for selecting me for this distinguished award. Whenever you are selected for anything by your peers it is an honor, but to be selected by your teammates in professional hockey with the officials I take the ice with every night, is an incredible feeling.
“There are countless people and mentors that I want to thank who have helped me get to this point in my career but first off, I would like to thank my parents, Richard and Kelly, and the rest of my family for supporting me and making sacrifices while I chase my goals,” Williams continued. “I would also like to acknowledge the staff, supervisors and instructors with USA Hockey Officiating Development Program, Detroit AAA and Flint, Michigan officiating groups for the support and opportunities throughout the journey. Next, I would like to thank the athletic trainers, equipment managers and support staff that go out of their way to help us when we need them to do our jobs. Finally, to Mr. Kelly, Ryan Crelin, Joe Ernst, Stephen Thomson, office staff and Development Coaches: I cannot describe how grateful I am for giving me the opportunity and developing me to be an official in the ECHL. The ECHL has given me countless memories and experiences that I will be forever grateful for.”
The 2021-22 season was Williams’ sixth season overall in the ECHL, and his fifth as a full-time official. During the 2019-20 season, he was selected to work the Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic in Wichita and earlier this season, he worked one of the outdoor games in Toledo as part of the Walleye’s Winterfest. During the 2022 Kelly Cup Playoffs, he was selected to the Conference Finals for the fourth time and the Kelly Cup Finals for the third time in his ECHL career. Williams, who is in his fourth season working games in the American Hockey League, was a full-time official for USA Hockey prior to joining the ECHL, working games in the North American Hockey League during the 2016-17 season.
“I would like to congratulate Christopher on being nominated by his teammates for the Ryan Birmingham Award,” said ECHL Manager of Officiating Operations Stephen Thomson. “Christopher has developed into a great role model and leader that new ECHL officials have learned to lean on for on and off-ice advice.  In addition to his generous time given as a mentor off the ice, at the rink Chris brings the professionalism, attitude, and dedication necessary to be a top end ECHL official.”
The ECHL will present the award to Williams during the 2022-23 season.
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 had 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 41 former ECHL officials who worked as part of the NHL officiating team in 2021-22 with referees Reid Anderson, Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Mitch Dunning, Trevor Hanson, Beau Halkidis, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Pierre Lambert, T.J. Luxmore, Peter MacDougall, Michael Markovic, Wes McCauley, Jon McIsaac, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Carter Sandlak, Graham Skilliter, Furman South, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh and linesmen Steve Barton, Ryan Daisy, Julien Fournier, Brandon Gawryletz, Mitchell Hunt, Trent Knorr, Matt MacPherson, Jesse Marquis, Kilian McNamara, Bevin Mills, C.J. Murray, Kory Nagy, Ben O’Quinn and Bryan Pancich.
Thirty-eight of the 71 referees working in the American Hockey League in 2021-22, came from the ECHL, while 95 of the 169 linesmen in the AHL have worked games in the ECHL.
Ryan Birmingham Memorial Award Winners
2021-22           Christopher Williams
2020-21           Sean MacFarlane
2019-20           Andrew Bruggeman
2018-19           Patrick Richardson
2017-18           Charlie O’Connor
2016-17           Scott DeBaugh
2015-16           Camden Nuckols and Oliver “Butch” Mousseaux
2014-15           Scott Senger
2013-14           Travis Jackson
2012-13            Brad Phillips
2011-12           Jason Rollins
2010-11           Paul Carnathan
2009-10           Ray King
2008-09           Michel Voyer
2007-08           David Jones