Hockey has been a part of Bob Schrader’s life for all of his 36 years and it never gets old.
The one-time netminder for the Prince Albert Raiders is seeing the game from the other side these days and it looks like he is adjusting to life as an official just fine.
On Tuesday, prior to the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League game between the Prince Albert Mintos and Notre Dame Argos, Schrader was feted with the league’s top official award.
“I don’t do it for the recognition,” says Schrader. “To be a part of the game and skate with 17-20 year olds is great. It’s a great way to stay in shape.”
It is Schrader’s second stint as an official as he worked games when he was playing minor hockey in Prince Albert before he left to tend goal for the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and later with the Shellbrook Elks of the Fort Carlton Hockey League.
Having been back in the stripes for seven years, Schrader says he sees the game a lot differently and his experience playing the game has helped him achieve the recent success he has enjoyed as a referee.
“When I was playing the game I was one of the biggest babies,” laughs Schrader. “I have a better understanding of the game now and I understand the mentality of the coaches and the players.”
Schrader also feels there are plenty of opportunities for referees right now citing Troy Murray, a 20-year-old player with the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds who also worked the lines at Western Hockey League games this winter.
“There are so many more opportunities as a referee (as opposed) to playing,” says Schrader. “There are so many opportunities for junior players.”
Schrader, in addition to working his regular job and raising a family, is on the ice several days a week doing games in various leagues. He has been a linesman at Raider games, refereed numerous Minto and A&W Bears games in addition to senior hockey in Shellbrook and various other points in the surrounding area.
“At the end of it, I just love the game,” says Schrader. “I’m 36 and I still live and breathe hockey.”
He hopes other former players follow his path as there is a shortage of senior officials. Having played the game at a higher level certainly brings something different to the job, but seeing the game from the other side is an attraction all in itself.
Getting acknowledged is just an added bonus.