Trail native Brandon Gawryletz is making the jump to the NHL as one of four new officials for the 2015-16 season.
The 32-year-old former Trail Smoke Eater along with referee Jake Brenk from Detroit Lakes, Minn. and Ontario linesmen Devin Berg and Ryan Gibbons of Vancouver signed NHL contracts this week and will don the stripes in the pre-season with the hopes of making their NHL debut early in the year.
The six-foot, 195-pound linesman, played five seasons in the BCHL, with the Smoke Eaters and Langley Hornets. He captained the Smoke Eaters in 2003-04, also his best season, posting career highs with six goals, 27 assists, and 122 penalty minutes in 58 games.
He went on to play college hockey at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks.
Gawryletz also attended the 2014 NHL Exposure Camp, and will wear number 64.
Evgeny Romasko, will also join the NHL ranks. Romasko spent last season splitting time between the AHL and the KHL. After working five games in the NHL last season, the Russian referee has committed to North America full-time for the upcoming season.
Brenk and Romasko fill the void left by the retirement of 26-year veteran referee Paul Devorski who worked 1,600 NHL games. Linesman Jean Morin also called it a career among the linesmen, retiring after 24 seasons.
According to Scouting the Refs website, there are a total of 48 referees in the NHL and a similar number of linesmen. Many officials under contract ref in the NHL as well as the Minor Leagues.