Red Deer and Central Alberta will have one of their own to cheer for when the 2020 World Junior Championships start in the Czech Republic this December.
Local linesmen Chad Huseby got the call earlier this fall that he was one of 10 linesmen selected to work the two-week tournament that starts on Dec. 26.
Huseby said it was humbling to get the call and should be an unforgettable opportunity.
“It was definitely unexpected and I was a little bit surprised when I found out. Found out from the Hockey Alberta Chair of Officiating, that I had been selected to head over,” said Huseby, who serves as Branch Manager at Servus Credit Union as his day job.
“It’s a very unique opportunity. One that you don’t really expect to get the call. When you do, it’s definitely humbling and pretty gratifying. Just looking forward to heading over and hopefully performing at a high level overseas.”
Like any hockey-loving Canadian kid, the now 33-year-old grew up watching the world juniors with his family and said he was quick to let his dad know he had been selected.
“I have fond memories of getting up on Boxing Day and watching the Canadian games and following the tournament quite closely,” he said.
“My dad was one of the first people that I contacted when I was going, because I think that’s always a bond that you share as a hockey family. I remember watching games growing up with him, so that was a cool text to him.”
The long-time linesman has worked some big games before. He was on the ice at the 2017 Memorial Cup in Regina, as well as the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup on home ice in Red Deer. The latter was his first taste of life on the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) scene.
It’s from those opportunities that Huseby worked his way up to get the call for the world juniors this year. Each year, the IIHF rates referees and linesmen A, B or C, and that determines who gets the top assignments, like the world juniors and world championships. He added that working deep into the WHL playoffs helps strengthen your case as well.
“It’s very much a performance-based industry,” he said.
Huseby regularly tends to the lines in the WHL, where he’s honed his skills for the past several years and thinks with that preparation he’ll be ready for international work this winter.
One big change, as well as adjusting to a new crew of officials, is the international rules tend to differ from what we see here in North America. He said they’ll be some studying beforehand, but mostly sharpening his skills on the ice and staying in game shape ahead of the tournament.
“Other than doing my normal Western Hockey League scheduled games, obviously there’s a lot of rule preparation,” he said.
“There are some stark differences between the North American game and the IIHF games. They’ll be a lot of rule review and trying to understand the differences… other than that, just work as hard as I can every night. Just make sure I’m in the best form possible.”
While it’s a big opportunity for Huseby, he also recognizes that leaving his family a few days before Christmas for two weeks will be a bit tough. So, they will also be glued to the couch at home watching dad hit the ice in the Czech Republic.
His wife, Lindsay with their one-month-old daughter Ainsley, as well as Jace, 8, Kyden, 6, and Pierce, 4, will be huddled around the TV, cheering– only for the guy in the stripes this time around.
“We have a month old daughter, along with the other three boys so, my wife is pretty supportive,” Huseby said.
“She’s as good as a referee wife as I could imagine. She’s supportive. It’s tough that it’s over Christmas time, but they’ll be cheering me on from Canada.”