WHL referee Graham Skilliter. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)
WHL referee Graham Skilliter. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)

Ref back after career threatening hit

by - Story: 53143

Graham Skilliter doesn't remember much about overtime of a game February 3 between the Kelowna Rockets and Edmonton Oil Kings.

He doesn't remember Brandon McMillan driving hard to the Oil Kings net, doesn't remember leaning in to get a better look at the play, and certainly doesn't remember a collision with the Rockets forward that left him on the ice for about 10 minutes.

Skilliter was back in Kelowna Saturday doing the game between the Rockets and Vancouver Giants.

"Nothing at all. I have watched the video several times," says Skilliter.

"I remember dropping the puck in overtime. I remember a play just previous to that and then after that the next thing I truly remember is being in the ambulance. Looking at the video it looks like I'm awake but I don't remember anything."

The 25-year-old Saskatoon native calls the incident a freak accident where both he and the player were doing what they were trained to do.

"The player is doing what he is supposed to do (driving the net) and I'm doing what I'm supposed to do in the one referee system where I'm busting as hard as I can to get in the best position to see if the puck crossed the goal line."

He says on the replay, he was was off-balance when he hit his head on the ice, which was due to him leaning in to get the best angle on the play.

Skilliter says he was back on the ice two weeks to the day after the incident officiating a game in Saskatoon.

He officiated a game with the Rockets in Calgary a few weeks ago and spoke with McMillan briefly then.

He says they talked again during Saturday's game.

"I talked to Brandon tonight (Saturday) when a fight was going on and I was taking him back to the players bench and we were just exchanging words. He was very apologetic and I said there was nothing to apologize for, it's a fast paced game and accidents happen. It's as much my bad as any of the players' bad."

Skilliter says he felt symptoms for about a week but says he feels 100 per cent now.

"It wasn't too scary looking at it, but it was scary the next day. That is when the symptoms were the worst. It's never a good feeling when you think you might be done."

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