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NHL referee Garrett Rank puts his stripes aside for a shot at a lifelong dream

NHL referee Garrett Rank has a great day job as an official, but for the next few days, he is putting his skates and striped shirt on the side as he partakes in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills.

When your day job is a professional NHL referee, one would think there wouldn’t be enough time to take up a second profession. That isn’t the case for Garrett Rank.

This weekend, he will be playing in one of golf’s biggest event, the US Open, and Rank couldn’t be happier.

As a child from the town of Elmira, Ontario, with a 2006 population just under 12,000, hockey was the top sport to play, but golf was his second love. He enjoyed the sport so much when he was younger that he eventually played for the Canadian national team in international competitions.

He was so good at golf that he earned a scholarship to the University of Waterloo where he was also considering a career in professional hockey though he was never drafted. Then a scare came into his life when he was diagnosed with cancer and his priorities and path in life changed significantly.

“I think cancer for me was kind of a blessing in disguise. It gave me a way better approach to hockey and golf and kind of changed my attitude that, hey, maybe that bad shot isn’t really that bad or, hey, maybe this missed call really isn’t that bad at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say I’m happy that I dealt with it, but kind of a blessing in disguise for me and probably paved the pathway to where I am today,” he told the New York Post‘s Brett Cyrgalis.

Rank started officiating hockey in the juniors and then moved up to the AHL in 2016 where he officiated the Eastern Conference final between Toronto and Hershey.

All along, he fit in hockey following Game 2 of that series he drove to Winged Foot for the Four-Ball, where he and partner Patrick Christovich shot a second-consecutive 65. He mentioned a funny story from that event that his gear was still wet from the game he officiated in Hershey, so he placed all his gear under his car so that it would dry out before he needed to suit up again while he golfed in the tournament.

The next season he was hired as a full-time referee in the NHL, but his aspirations to succeed at golf never faltered.

Just last week, he went to Ansley Golf Club in Georgia for US Open sectional qualifying and earned his spot in the field by shooting 71-71. Now he is getting ready for the US Open in Shinnecock Hills.

After officiating 73 regular season games and three playoff games this year, Rank will tee off at 7:18 a.m. ET on Thursday morning for the opportunity to win the US Open. Not bad for a guy who grew up in the hockey capital of the world.

A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at Nyrfc12@gmail.com