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Longtime official Bolton named to Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame

Harvey Bolton knows puck. The longtime Flin Flon hockey official has been announced as a new member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.
Harvey Bolton gives a speech during the Flin Flon Minor Hockey Association awards night April 5 at the Creighton Sportex. Bolton was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the meeting and an award for most outstanding official was named in his honour.

Harvey Bolton knows puck. The longtime Flin Flon hockey official has been announced as a new member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.

He hasn’t officially been inducted yet - that will take place in a ceremony in October - but Bolton was named as a member of the hall’s Class of 2024 at an event in Winnipeg June 11. Bolton will be officially inducted into the hall’s builders category and will join several other Flin Flon hockey luminaries, including NHLers like Bobby Clarke, coaches like Paddy Ginnell and individual teams from years past. No Flin Flon-born official has ever been named to the hall before.

The honour has left Bolton short of words.

“I still haven’t been able to describe it, honestly,” he said.

“I was pretty much speechless and humbled and honoured, all those things, but it’s definitely taking some time to sink in. It’s pretty exciting for myself and for my whole family.”

Bolton has been officiating hockey games in some way since 1972 - back then, aged just 14, he started out as a referee. While Bolton has not officiated games on-ice for years, he still works as an off-ice official for several different levels of hockey, including MJHL games in The Pas for The Blizzard, junior B games in the KJHL and for minor hockey tournaments. Bolton is still the referee-in-chief for the Norman Regional Minor Hockey Association - a position he’s held since the 1980s - and the former referee-in-chief for Hockey Manitoba. Bolton has worked major international men’s and women’s tournaments to atom house league and everything in between.

Bolton was nominated for the hall earlier this year by a pair of old friends he first met wearing the stripes - Winnipeg-born former NHL linesman Ryan Galloway and long-time referee Ian Heather, who succeeded Bolton as Hockey Manitoba’s referee-in-chief. Bolton’s nomination was accompanied by letters of support from officials and hockey associations from across the province, including Flin Flon-based officials and the Flin Flon Minor Hockey Association.

All that collecting was done without Bolton’s knowledge - he first learned of his nomination through a phone call from Winnipeg last week, just a few days before the official unveiling of this year’s class.

Bolton thanked his family for their support of his work over the years, as well as the Flin Flon Minor Hockey Association, who introduced an award for the association’s best official last year bearing Bolton’s name.

“They have put up with everything I’ve done and encouraged and supported me for 50-plus years. My wife, my kids… I missed events and birthdays and all those good things while I was off at the rink," he said.

“Flin Flon minor hockey has also really supported me and sent me a lot of respect and really made these last several years of my involvement much more enjoyable, especially working with the young kids. The support from the people here has been incredible.”

The 2021-22 season marked his 50th year in the game and he has no intention of stopping any time soon - he still plans to return to the rink this season for another year of off-ice officiating.

“It is my plan to stay involved with the officiating program, certainly at the minor hockey level with young officials in Flin Flon going forward,” said Bolton.

“As much as I’m looking forward to the events in October for the hall of fame, I’m also looking forward to this year’s referee clinics when I get to meet brand new officials, showing up for the first time, seeing that excitement again. That’s my plan - that’s my goal for this season.”

The Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Winnipeg at the hockey for all centre, a multi-rink complex where the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets hold practices and training camps. Bolton joins fellow builders Wayne Deschouwer and Jack McKenzie, players Shane Hnidy, Laurie Langrell, Brad Maxwell, Russ Romaniuk and Duvie Westcott, official Paul Krestanowich, media member Kelly Moore, veterans Ed Reigle and Hal Winkler, grassroots member Laurent Kerbrat, the 1986-1992 Cartwright Clippers team and the 2012 Allan Cup national senior title-winning Southeast Prairie Thunder in this year’s class.

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