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'A huge honour': B.C. high school teacher calling the shots at World Juniors


A high school teacher from Metro Vancouver is among the referees calling the shots at this year's World Junior Hockey Championships.

Mark Pearce teaches social studies at Argyle Secondary School in North Vancouver but he's spending the winter break far from his classroom – officiating the tournament in front of packed crowds in Gothenberg, Sweden.

"It's a huge honour and it's a privilege being able to come over, especially to a European country, and be able to ref with a number of different officials from around the world," he told CTV News.

"Being able to share the ice with the best under-20 players in the world is obviously a huge honour as well."

Pearce called the Boxing Day game between Slovakia and Chechia on Boxing Day and says the atmosphere in the stadium was electric.

"The crowd was on their feet chanting most of the game and you very rarely see that in North America. It doesn't change the way that we officiate of course, but it definitely adds a little bit of personality and emotion and excitement," he said, adding that the players, coaches and crowds are charged up by the brief and high-stakes nature of the tournament.

"Every game over here is obviously very critical."

This is Pearce's second time refereeing at the World Juniors, but the experience this year is different than the one he had in Edmonton in 2022 when the tournament was played inside of a "bubble" due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the caliber of hockey being played is the same, the presence of a massive crowd adds another dimension to the experience.

Referees, Pearce acknowledges, can be the targets of some "choice" words from fans, parents and coaches whether they're officiating a local kids' game or on the world stage.

"You can't take it personally, just take it one game at a time. Things do get better. It's hard at first," he said, offering his best advice to refs on the receiving end of anger or criticism.

Pearce says his students know about his plans for the winter break and that he looks forward to telling them about his experience – and hearing about how they spent their holidays – when he returns to the classroom.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Martin MacMahon Top Stories

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