Two former Section 10 boys hockey players, Massena’s Ryan Chauvin and Norwood-Norfolk’s Coby Munson, worked as linesmen Saturday night when Wisconsin defeated Northeastern 2-1 in overtime to win the NCAA Division I women’s hockey championship in Erie, Pa.
It was the highlight of each official’s career to date, as both are still relatively new to college hockey officiating.
Chauvin, who is 27, started working ECAC Hockey games as a linesman in 2016-17 at the women’s level. Two years ago he started working some women’s games as a referee and he’s also worked men’s hockey games as a linesman for the last two years.
Munson, who is 23, is in his fourth year working women’s games and he worked his first men’s game when Clarkson hosted St. Lawrence University on Jan. 15.
“It was awesome,” Chauvin said of working the national championship game. “It’s definitely similar (to what players feel). A lot of mental preparation goes into it. We are not going to win or lose the game, but it’s a culmination of a whole season of work. These are the games you look forward to at the end of the season. You approach it as any other game. We are lucky in (ECAC Hockey) that we have a lot of good teams. On any given night you can have a big game. That prepares us for working the bigger games.”
Said Munson, who called a penalty on Wisconsin for having too many players on the ice during the game: “It was pretty unreal. When the year started I didn’t even know if there was going to be a national championship game. It means more to the players, but for us it’s the same. We had to work hard to get there. We were being evaluated all year. It meant a lot to us, too.”
Chauvin and Munson worked Saturday with two referees who are well-respected in the sport. For Derek Zuckerman, it was his fourth national championship game. For Katie Guay, it was the latest big moment in a career that’s already seen her work the most recent women’s Olympic gold medal game. She’s projected to be an NHL official at some point.
“She does a really good job,” Chauvin said of Guay. “She and I have worked together somewhere around 30-40 games over the years. It’s always a good time working with her. We have a good relationship. We’ve known each other so long it’s just second nature.”
Said Munson, “It was pretty fun. She had quite the stories from working the Olympics. It was cool to pick her brain a bit. She was awesome.”
Both locals started officiating games when they were kids. Chauvin began in the seventh grade and Munson when was 15.
“When I was younger I’d go to all the Clarkson games, my grandparents had season tickets,” Munson said. “I always called penalties before the refs during the game. My grandmother told me I was going to be a ref. If you are not playing, to be on the ice (officiating) is just as cool.”
Chauvin played one year of NCAA Division III hockey at Worcester (Mass.) State, but his playing career ended after that due to injuries.
His officiating career, which was already in progress by then, began because a U.S. hockey official, Scott Rogers, was a family friend who lived nearby.
“He assigned the youth games and he kind of pushed me in that direction,” Chauvin said. “At the time I was kind of hesitant. I did it for a few mite games, got my certification and the rest is history. The way my college playing career ended, it was a bitter tone with two injuries. This gives me that next level down, as far as competitiveness and being part of the game and getting to interact with players.”
Chauvin works as an auditor for the state comptroller’s office and may have to relocate to Albany once the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Munson, who went to SUNY Canton, is a drafter for the state power authority.
They work other levels besides NCAA Division I hockey, including high school games.
“One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that a lot of guys who work college also work different levels,” Chauvin said. “There are four or five different rule books you have to know. That’s one of the biggest things that goes into what we do in the season to prepare.”