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Kelowna woman named BC Hockey’s Official of the Year

It’s been a busy year of officiating for Melissa Brunn and her hard work has been recognized by BC Hockey.

The Kelowna woman was recently named the organization’s Official of the Year for the 2023-24 season.

<who>Photo Credit: Contributed</who>Melissa Brunn at Saturday's BC Hockey awards banquet.

While she’s a proud member of the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association (MHA), Brunn’s impact on the game of hockey was felt around the world last season.

She officiated at the 2024 IIHF Division 1 U18 Women’s World Championship in Italy, made her PWHL officiating debut in February and worked her second consecutive USports Women’s Championship.

In addition, she made a little history by becoming the first female official to be assigned to a KIJHL championship series.

The 2023-24 season was her first full year as a member of the National High Performance Officiating Group, while she also graduated from the Hockey Canada and IIHF Elite Women’s Training Camp.

“Melissa also serves as a local and regional officiating coach, developer, assignor and mentor, and was also the lead instructor for the 2023 BC Hockey Female Officiating Program of Excellence,” noted a release from BC Hockey.

Brunn wasn’t the only member of the Kelowna MHA honoured by BC Hockey at an awards banquet in Penticton on Saturday night.

Larry Lenarduzzi, who sent in the news tip alerting KelownaNow to Brunn’s accomplishment, received the Mike Landucci Development Award for officiating.

He serves as the Kelowna MHA’s referee-in-chief and BC Hockey’s South Okanagan officiating lead, which has him overseeing 190 active officials.

“Dedicated to the development of officials in his area, Larry constantly picks up any available weeknight ice times to put on development sessions for younger officials,” the BC Hockey release said.

“Larry puts together a monthly newsletter to recognize achievements of Kelowna MHA officials, and also educational pieces so that they can continue to learn and improve.”

Lenarduzzi has also put together a mentorship group of experienced officials who attend games to watch younger referees and provide them with valuable feedback.

To see the full list of BC Hockey award recipients for the 2023-24 season, click this link.

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