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Prince George woman wins B.C. Hockey top official award

Grace Barlow was a referee as part at the first all-female Junior A officiating crew in Canada, during a BCHL regular season game on October 17, 2021 between the Surrey Eagles and the Langley Rivermen.
grace barlow BCHL referee Nov 12/21 2
Prince George's Grace Barlow hit the ice at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena on Friday night as one of two BCHL referees in a game between the Prince George Spruce Kings and Vernon Vipers. Citizen Photo by James Doyle.

A Prince George woman has been named Official of the Year by B.C. Hockey.

Grace Barlow’s 2021-22 season was described in a release by B.C. Hockey as “exceptional.”  She officiated the B.C. Elite Hockey League Female U18 AAA finals, the Pacific Regional Championship, and the Canada West women’s hockey playoff final. She was a referee as part at the first all-female Junior A officiating crew in Canada, during a BCHL regular season game on October 17, 2021 between the Surrey Eagles and the Langley Rivermen.

A few weeks later, Prince George resident saw Barlow in action when she was one of the referees when the Prince George Spruce Kings played at home against the Vernon Vipers.

Barlow grew up playing hockey in Prince George and played three seasons in the B.C. Hockey Female Midget Triple-A League from 2013-16 as a defender for the Northern Capitals, helping them to consecutive league championships in 2015 and 2016. She now lives in Vancouver where she’s a student in the dentistry program at UBC while officiating three to four games a week.

She got into officiating after her playing career ended and she served two seasons as a linesman before she became a referee. 

Barlow wants to take her officiating career as far as she can and will plans to continue climbing the ladder to the international and/or pro hockey levels. The American Hockey League hired seven female referees and three female linesmen for the 2021-22 season and Barlow eventually wants to follow that lead.

“My goal is to get into the IIHF and hopefully one day I can get to the Olympics,” she told The Citizen in November. “It’s a really long shot but it’s something I always wanted to do as a player and now knowing that dream is not going to become a reality I think it’s a good opportunity for me to get there as a referee and give back to the game.”

With files from Ted Clarke