By Ross Forman – Kendall Hanley – who officiated one of her 13 seasons as an on-ice official in Illinois and served as a member of the IHOA Board of Directors – was named the 2021 Ben Allison Award-winner, presented annually to an official in the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program.
The award is voted on by 150 members of the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program and given to the official who best represents the characteristics that made Ben a special person and official, including always giving 100 percent on the ice and representing USA Hockey in the finest manner.
Allison was a level three USA Hockey certified official who was tragically killed in January 2015 at the age of 20. A native of Royal Oak, Mich., and a student at Illinois State University, he had been officiating for eight years and was a part of the Officiating Development Program for three years at various levels, including the NAHL. Allison attended and played for Crystal Lake South High School.
“Kendall is an outstanding official and an even better person,” said fellow official Shane Gustafson, also a CLS alum who was the first-ever Ben Allison Award-winner. “I have known Kendall for many years through officiating and had the pleasure of working the 2019 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., with her. She is hard-working, disciplined, professional and unbelievably kind. Her fun, charismatic personality is contagious to be around. She checks off every characteristic you would look for in a Ben Allison Award-winner and I know Ben is smiling down, extremely proud of the names that have carried on his legacy over the past few years. Congratulations to Kendall on this amazing achievement.”
Hanley started officiating years ago while living in Dallas. She also has officiated in Denver, and during the 2016-17 in the Chicagoland area while living and working downtown.
“Living in Chicago was an awesome experience,” she said. Her local schedule included youth and high school games, and she traveled for USA Hockey-assigned games.
This season she worked in the USHL, NA3HL and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The season “had its ups and downs due to COVID,” she said. “This season more so than ever I’ve been very fortunate to be able to skate.”
Hanley praised her fellow Illinois officials for the experiences and memories, including a high school playoff game at Johnny’s Icehouse that featured the National Anthem sung by Jim Cornelison, who sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “O Canada” at Chicago Blackhawks games.
“That environment was awesome, with a packed house. It was a unique experience,” Hanley said.
“Being embraced and so welcome in Illinois hockey was an amazing experience in my career, something I’ll always remember.”
Hanley praised several Illinois officials for helping improve her game, including Erin Blair, Dave Zednik, Carl Sassolino and others. “There were a number of people in Illinois who were awesome to work with, just as passionate about officiating as I am,” she said.
Hanley said winning the Ben Allison Award is “a tremendous honor.”
“I know we would have been friends, on and off the ice, just based on his character, his character, what he represented,” she said of Allison. “I know how much he meant to so many people from the Chicago area. He made a tremendous impact on so many, especially people from Chicago.
“That’s why the award, and winning the award, is so empowering.”
She said the award “is one of the highlights” of her officiating career.
Eric Cowsill, Illinois Referee-in-Chief added, “In her tenure with IHOA, Kendall always displayed an uplifting attitude and willingness to help, whether it was teaching (at) seminars or helping new officials. It was obvious Kendall is invested in making grassroots officiating better and (she) continues to do so in current endeavors.”