Brad Meier may live in Calgary, but he considers Saskatoon home.
“I did pretty much all my schooling there, University there – and we still have a place in Waskesiu,” Meier explained.
“Even though my kids have grown up in Calgary, they still have the Saskatchewan connection and all our family is still in Saskatoon.”
Now he’s coming back to his roots – as one of the referees for the Heritage Classic on Oct. 26 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I was hoping for it, but there’s never any guarantees.”
The NHL referee has been a part of big-ticket events before, including two other Heritage Classics. He said this one is special.
“To have my family be able to come – we are all Saskatchewan people – it’s great.”
“Seeing the new stadium, how it’s protected, and all the green – I’m sure once I’m in there it’ll hit home as to how special it is.”
While it’s a regular-season game for the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames, the outdoor experience is anything but, according to Meier.
From his perspective, there are some unique challenges.
“The ice is an x-factor,” he explained. “It’s different sightlines – the fans are further away from the ice – it makes the ice surface feel bigger, although it’s not.”
Crews begin flipping Mosaic Stadium for NHL Heritage Classic
Even though attendance is almost double that of a typical NHL game, inside the boards, he said, it’s the still the same game.
“You still read and react the way you can.”
Preparing for the game – including the elements – is no different than normal for Meier.
“Maybe an extra T-shirt or undershirt,” he said. “It’s a personal preference.”
“I’m a bit superstitious that way I guess – just want to feel like it’s a normal game as much as possible.”
Reflecting on his first Heritage Classic, Meier notes he was the youngest official on the ice, absorbing everything he could from the others.
“It was kind of fun for me to get a taste of that for the first time,” he said.
Now, the 52-year-old is the oldest guy on the crew.
“It’s kind of gone full circle that way,” he explained. “I’m looking forward to sharing my insights with these guys.”
As for the game, he thinks NHL fans in Saskatchewan will enjoy the experience.
“It’s a better set-up than an exhibition game,” he said.
“It’ll showcase what the league has to offer for the fan who doesn’t get the opportunity to see an NHL game live.”
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