Controversy doesn’t kill careers: Lacey Senuk is on the road to Beijing 2020

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Lacey Senuk (Hockey Canada)

An Edmonton based hockey official skated on the world stage in April of this year. All eyes were on Lacey Senuk, 33,  for a contested call in this year’s IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Finland.

For the first time in 19 years, the Canadian women’s team wasn’t in the finals and that gave Senuk the opportunity to officiate in the final game.

“Being my first worlds, it was everything I could have imagined plus more,” she says.

Senuk started officiating at the age of 23, after she was convinced by friends to take on the stripes. She says that being a referee is her way of staying involved with the sport and giving back — and her experience playing hockey made her transition to the role of official easier.

“You see the game, you know the game, you can read the game, respond to the game and have the feel for the game,” she says. “It helps all the time.”

Senuk climbed the ranks quickly and gained prestige each year, refereeing games both nationally and internationally — all while maintaining a full work schedule.

“For a female, it’s not a full time job. It doesn’t pay the mortgage, you know. It doesn’t pay the bills, but I would do for free. I absolutely love it,” she says.

But her career as an official hasn’t been without challenges. In the gold medal game of the IIHF tournament — a career making moment for Senuk — controversy struck. A goal by Finnish player Petra Niemenin was disallowed because of goalie interference on the play.

“You’re only going to be right 50 per cent of the time. Half the rink likes you. It said that’s just how it is,” she says. “As officials, you got to bounce back, just like all the players had to do.”

Despite the setback, big things are on the horizon for the official. She plans to skate at next year’s IIHF World Championship in Halifax, and then shortly after at  Beijing in 2022.

“Control what you can control. Your destiny’s a little bit unknown. So you just do what you can do,” she says. “If this was the end of the road for me, I can definitely say, ‘You know what? I’ve been there done that.’ I’m super happy and I have zero regrets.”

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