But, for two Saskatchewan officials, the experience was the highlight of their officiating careers, even if the first phase was a little lonely after already being quarantined at home for two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Once we were in our room for five days, they were bringing us meals,” Adam Bloski said.
“Getting tested for COVID every day. They would knock on the door, give us our swab. After those five days, the boys were really excited to get going. We were skating once a day before the tournament began.”
Mike Langin said the days in quarantine went by quickly.
“We had a couple of Zoom sessions with a couple of NHL guys, so we’re not just laying in bed all day,” Langin said.
Bloski was assigned Canada’s first game — a 16-2 thumping of Germany who only had 14 skaters due to the coronavirus. But the game actually made history and Bloski was a part of it.
“Canada has never had Canadian officials referee their games at the World Juniors so that was pretty cool to be working the first-ever Canada game with Canadian officials,” he said.
The next night Langin was on the ice officiating Team Canada versus Slovakia.
“Every kid growing up that plays hockey, they want to put on that Team Canada jersey, whether it’s at a World Juniors or U17 tournament, or the Olympics or whatever it may be. So to be out there representing Canada was pretty cool.”
Both officials are now back home waiting to begin officiating in the Western Hockey League. Bloski also officiates in the AHL, which gets started on Feb. 5.
Both, however, say they will never forget their time in the bubble at the World Juniors.
“I mean for all 26 of us that were there, in a way it’s kind of an audition for us as well because we have supervisors, that supervise the IIHF, and the Olympics and the World Championships,” Langin said.
“If you kind of go and make a good impression on them, then if there are any future assignments that you get selected for, then you have that in your back pocket as well.”
Bloski said he didn’t feel alone in the bubble.