Joe Ernst enters his 28th season with the ECHL and his first season as Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations after spending the previous eight seasons as Vice President of Hockey Operations. Ernst, who worked 16 seasons as an on-ice official in the ECHL, the American Hockey League and the International Hockey League, is responsible for overseeing all day-to-day operations of the League’s Hockey Operations Department and Officiating Department. He is also in charge of player supplemental discipline, and working with the ECHL Equipment Managers, Trainers and Game Operations staffs on all League-related details.
Ernst was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame as the first inductee in the Referee/Linesman category in 2011.
He was a member of the National Hockey League officials training program for seven years and worked three NHL preseason games. He is the only ECHL referee with more than 1,000 regular season games, refereeing 1,061 regular season games and over 200 postseason games, including three Riley Cups (1993-95) and six Kelly Cups (2002-07). He was selected to work as the referee for the ECHL All-Star Game in 1999 in Biloxi, Mississippi.