Since drawing attention at the USA Hockey Festival in 2009, Dominic Trento has spent four seasons moving between four different Eastern Junior Hockey League teams. That climb reached a new peak this season when Trento helped the Jersey Hitmen become the Eastern League’s top team.
It took some time for Trento to fit in with his new team, but after sitting out an early-season game as a scratch, the Brockport, N.Y. resident changed positions and found his place. By the time the playoffs arrived, Trento was firmly established as the center on a line with team captain Jack Riley and Tim Clifton, both Division I recruits.
Jersey fell behind twice in the deciding game of the Dineen Cup Finals, but Trento scored two goals and assisted on two others to lead what turned into an 8-2 romp over the Islanders Hockey Club from Tyngsboro, Mass.
For his efforts, Trento was named Most Valuable Player of the Dineen Cup playoffs.
Trento said Hitmen coach Toby Harris made it clear what the player had to do to avoid a repeat of sitting out a game.
“Toby sat me down and let me know, ‘You’ve got to be more consistent, that’s the knock on you by college coaches,’” Trento said. “He really lit a fire under me.
“I wanted to prove I could be the go-to guy.”
It helped that Harris also found the right spot for Trento.
“At the beginning of the year, we had him at wing and weren’t really getting a lot out of him,” Harris said. “We had a couple of injuries and we moved him out to center.
“Once that move was made, he really took off.”
Trento completed a slow and steady climb through the ranks of the EJHL to become the league’s second-leading scorer.
Trento had been one of the New York District’s representatives at the Select Festival on the 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-old level in each of the past four summers. However, he moved around the Eastern League in the fall and winter.
Trento scored six goals for Rochester, nine for Apple Core and 14 for Green Mountain before joining Jersey, where he produced 18 goals and 49 assists in the regular season.
By playoff time, Trento was one of the keys to a team that rattled off 27 straight wins at one point this season.
“He left his mark on every game in the playoffs,” Harris said. “Then, in the championship game, he had two goals and two assists. He was all over the ice.”
When they scored the game’s last seven goals, including six in the third period, the Hitmen captured their third Eastern League playoff title.
“After that talk, I started working my way up from being a scratch to being on the top line,” Trento said. “I really have to give credit to my linemates. They helped me to where I ended up as the second-leading scorer.
“When I look back I can see Toby did what he did on purpose. He got the most out of me as a player. I have to thank him for that.”
Trento improved his prospect status along the way. He said he has four scholarship offers and might commit in the weeks, although he still plans to spend another year in junior hockey while also working on getting himself more prepared academically.
Trento’s playoff MVP honor was just one of the individual awards Hitmen players claimed at the end of season in which they won 39 of 45 regular-season games.
Brendan Bradley was named EJHL Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 78 points on 17 goals and 61 assists in the regular season. The University of Vermont recruit from Richboro, Pa. had 10 more points in eight playoff games.
Andrew Black was named regular-season MVP of the league. Black, a Colgate recruit from Buffalo, N.Y., shared the league lead with 30 goals and also had 36 assists in 44 regular-season games. He then had six goals and six assists in the playoffs.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials.
USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?
Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.
USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season?
Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that.
The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.
USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?
Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.
USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official?
Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.
USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career?
Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.
USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?
Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.
USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?
Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.
USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career?
Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.
Tag(s): News & Features