Referee Sean MacFarlane has won the 2020-21 Ryan Birmingham Memorial Award for contributions and dedication to the league officiating staff, the ECHL said today.
The award is named in memory of ECHL linesman Ryan Birmingham, who died in a 2007 auto accident, the league said in a statement.
“I am incredibly honored to receive this award after the stressful and challenging season that we were all faced with this season,” MacFarlane said in the statement. “I want to say a big thank you to Mr. Kelly, Joe Ernst, Stephen Thomson and the rest of the ECHL for all the sacrifices that were made to ensure we had the opportunity to play hockey this year.
“To my colleagues that voted for me, thank you! I wouldn’t enjoy this job without your hard work and effort every night. It’s truly a blessing to do this as a living with all of you. This award will be something I will cherish for the rest of my life, so again, thank you! And most of all I can’t thank my family enough for all the years of love and support, without you I wouldn’t be anywhere I am today. Officiating can be a grueling and lonely career at times and because of your dedication and support to my career I’m able to find motivation to do my best every season.”
The 2020-21 season was MacFarlane’s fourth as a referee in both the ECHL and the American Hockey League. Earlier this year, the Spokane, Washington, native worked the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Under-18 World Championships in Texas. He also worked the 2019 Kelly Cup Finals.
“I would like to congratulate Sean on being nominated by his teammates for the Ryan Birmingham Award,” ECHL Manager of Officiating Stephen Thomson said in the statement. “Sean’s continued passion and dedication for the game shows night in and night out and sets a great example for the young officials entering the ECHL. It's because of that dedication and commitment to the league and our officiating team that earned him this award from his peers.”