Referee Andrew Bruggeman has been named the recipient of the 2019-20 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 Birmingham Award,” Bruggeman said. “I’m incredibly thankful for my teammates for selecting me for this honor. We have such an incredible group of people in the ECHL and working with you guys every night is a real treat for me!
“I’d like to thank my parents, Dave and Julie, and my brother Tyler,” he continued. “Your support throughout my career has been more than I could ever hope for, and your guidance and advice has always led me down the right path. To my girlfriend, Meghan, thank you for your love, your patience, and your acceptance of the crazy schedule we keep.
“I’d like to thank USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program and their officiating supervisors who helped grow me into the official and person I am today. Finally, I’d like to thank our management team. Mr. Kelly, Ryan, Joe, Stephen, all of our Development Coaches and the office staff, thank you for continuing to provide us all a place to develop as referees and for all your guidance and friendship. I’m forever grateful for the opportunities that the ECHL has given me.”
The 2019-20 season was Bruggeman’s fourth as an ECHL referee and third in the American Hockey League after beginning his officiating career when he was 12-years-old. He was selected to officiate the 2020 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic in Wichita and in 2018-19, he was selected as a referee for the Kelly Cup Finals, and also officiated the 2019 World Junior Championships in Vancouver. Prior to joining the ECHL, he was selected to work the 2015 United States Hockey League/National Hockey League Top Prospects Game, the 2015 USHL Clark Cup Finals, the 2016 Southern Professional Hockey League President’s Cup Final and the 2017 USA All-American Prospects Game.
“I would like to congratulate Andrew on being this year’s recipient of the Ryan Birmingham Award,” said ECHL Manager of Officiating Stephen Thomson. “He is a leader for our officiating team both on and off the ice, and his dedication to the ECHL is second to none. It is a great honor to be nominated by his teammates for this award.
“Andrew can add this to the long list of accomplishments throughout his officiating career and I would like to personally thank Andrew for his efforts and contributions to the ECHL Officiating Team,” Thomson added.
The ECHL will present the award to Bruggeman during the 2020-21 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 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 33 former ECHL officials who worked as part of the NHL officiating team in 2019-20 with referees Jake Brenk, Francis Charron, Tom Chmielewski, Trevor Hanson, Beau Halkidis, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Trent Knorr, Pierre Lambert, T.J. Luxmore, Peter MacDougall, 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, Ryan Daisy, Julien Fournier, Brandon Gawryletz, Matt MacPherson, Brian Mach, Jesse Marquis, Bevin Mills, Kory Nagy and Bryan Pancich.
Forty-four of the 68 referees working in the American Hockey League, came from the ECHL. One hundred nine of the 187 linesmen in the AHL have worked games in the ECHL.
Ryan Birmingham Memorial Award Winners
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