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NHL ref Rank scores major off-ice goal

The Associated Press

Garrett Rank

The Associated PressSOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Garrett Rank is trading skates for spikes on a stage far larger than anything he has experienced.

No one plays Shinnecock Hills on ice.

This week is not about blue lines and high-sticking. It’s about green fairways and lag putting.

Rank’s day job ended two months ago when he finished working the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That left Rank, an NHL referee for the last three years, enough time to qualify for his first U.S. Open.

“The reaction from the hockey community has been huge,” Rank said Monday. “I think every official on our staff sent me a text and congratulated me and said they’d be following along and are really proud of me.

“I even had a few phone calls asking if it was me, like if that was the same Garrett Rank. I don’t know too many other people with the same name. But yeah, that’s me. I’m going to the U.S. Open.”

The fairway isn’t really an escape for the 30-year-old Canadian. Sure, it’s quieter. There is less surrounding chaos. There are no whistles — any penalties typically are called by the players themselves.

Rank is simply here to play. The intensity is no different.

“You have to deal with the pressure of making a call — or I guess the pressure of making a wrong call — [and] you deal with the pressure of making a bad shot in golf,” he said. “And you have to be really decisive as well. Decisive in the decisions you make about what shot you want to hit, and then obviously you have to make a decision in about a split second if you’re going to call a penalty or not.”

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