Mount Pearl/South and St. John’s/North faced off in the gold-medal game in the male hockey competition Tuesday at the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Deer Lake.
However, there was a third team on the ice, one that wasn’t looking for a trip to the podium.
Deer Lake native Darren Gillard was the referee for the contest, and the two people working the lines with him were more than fellow officials.
They were family, his 19-year-old son Jalen and 17-year-old daughter Jolena.
Darren Gillard is a Level 3 official who has been calling games for eight years. His four children all play hockey, but he also urged them to try officiating so they could see the game from a different perspective.
“You get a lot of abuse from coaches, fans and even players, and I want them to have a respect for the officials. I figured the best way to do that would be to actually experience it themselves and see what the game is like through the eyes of an official,” he said.
Prior to the Games, Hockey NL referee-in-chief Ed Flood approached Gillard to offer him the opportunity to do a game or two with his son and daughter
He jumped at the chance.
“I figured it would be something they would enjoy, so I was excited about doing it,” he said.
Jolena Gillard is also honing her skills as one of the top female hockey players in the province and she believes following her dad into officiating has helped in that regard because it has improved her understanding of the game.
It has also helped her grow as a person, making her grateful for taking on a role that comes with a great deal of responsibility and pressure to make the right call.
Her work as an official has also made her more forgiving as a player.
“You know what the referees are thinking and how they are feeling, so you can give them slack,” she said. “They can’t call everything and you’re not going to get every call.”
St. John’s/North won the gold-medal final 3-1 on what was the last day of first half competition at the Games.
Second-half competition will involve alpine skiing, basketball, figure skating, table tennis, badminton and wrestling. The skiing will be at Marble Mountain in Steady Brook, while figure skating is at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.
The hundreds of athletes involved in those sports arrived in Deer Lake Wednesday as those who had participated in first-half sports — bowling, cross-country skiing, gymnastics, volleyball and hockey — were leaving.
The Games conclude on Saturday.
Medals (gold, silver and bronze) awarded, by regional teams, in the first half of the 2018 N.L. Winter Games:
Region G S B Total
St. John’s/North 12 8 2 22
Western 12 5 5 22
Central 3 - 2 5
Mount Pearl/South 1 2 1 4
Eastern - 2 1 3
Labrador - 2 1 3
Host 1 - 1 2
Avalon - - 2 2
Indigenous - - 1 1
St-Pierre et Miquelon - - -