Now that another Olympic Games is over, many across Canada know the stories of our athletes and the various roads they took to get to their ultimate goal. Bart Starr Super Bowl Jersey . But what about the officials? Every sport has officials and they also have stories about hard work and sacrifice but their accomplishments are seldom recognized by anyone outside their inner circle. Well, meet Derek Amell, 17-year NHL linesman and now an Olympian. When I turned on the mens hockey gold medal game between Canada and Sweden, I was happy to see that an old acquaintance would be working the lines for the biggest game on the worlds biggest stage. You see, over 25 years ago, Derek and I worked together at a drug store chain in Whitby, Ontario. I was a university student taking a year off school and he was a high school student looking to improve on his first job working the night shift at Burger King for $2.85/hr. There were two things I remembered about Derek back then: he was a lot bigger than me, and he had a very calm personality. Looking back, those are two good attributes for an NHL linesman. For Derek, the dream took off at the age of 24 when he worked his first Ontario Hockey League game. Three years later, he started working American Hockey League games and this is where our paths would cross again. I was an off-ice official with the Hamilton Canucks and Hamilton Bulldogs in the 1990s and we would touch base now and again at Copps Coliseum. I could see then that he was on his way to the NHL. "I felt the NHL was an attainable goal after working the AHLs Calder Cup Final in my first year," said Amell. He wouldnt have to wait long for the big moment. The following year, he found out he would be working NHL games in the upcoming season. In his first NHL season, the league made the decision to return to the Olympics in Nagano, meaning there was now another rung on the ladder of success for NHL players and officials. There would be some career highlights along the way, such as the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, the 2009 and 2012 Stanley Cup Finals as well as the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. Could the Olympics be next? And then he got the news. Unlike the athletes who are introduced at news conferences, Amell was contacted through e-mail by Stephen Walkom, the NHLs director of officiating. The message was sent on December 1, naming the 13 NHL officials who were chosen to work in Sochi. Of course, when athletes go to the Olympics, they stay in the Athletes Village and invite family and friends to share in the experience. Is it the same for the officials? "The officials stayed together in a hotel right inside the Olympic area. It was great to be together with all the amateur officials," said Amell, who is a married father of two children but did not have any family join him in Sochi. To work the gold medal game, he had to prove himself again. "The gold medal officials were chosen by a panel of supervisors from various countries and it was based on performance during the tournament. We were told by e-mail after the semifinal games," said Amell. When the officials for the gold medal game were announced, former NHL player and Swedish international Peter Forsberg was incensed that Canadians would be working the game but some current Swedish players defended the decision, saying their nationality wouldnt affect their decision-making. "We knew there would be extreme scrutiny on the officiating when it was announced that the officials were Canadian," said Amell. "We knew the players would be comfortable with us since we are all in the NHL. It was more an issue with the media than with the players. "At the end of the game, the entire Swedish team came over and shook our hands and told us we did a great job. That was very satisfying for us." So which was more nerve-racking: the first NHL game or the gold medal game? "Working the gold medal game was the most nerve-racking game I have ever officiated," he admitted. Its been a long road from collecting shopping carts in Whitby to officiating at the gold medal game in Sochi. And while Amells appearance at the Olympics may not have been as celebrated as many of the athletes, or even noticed by most viewers, the accomplishment is no less significant. And just like the athletes, family plays an integral role in the success of officials, offering support and enduring hardships over the years. "Since we only work 6-8 games a year at home, the family sacrifices are large," said Amell. "I miss most of my childrens sports activities and birthdays. They understand the life of an NHL official, but it still can be very difficult on my wife and children," said Amell. As for the hundreds of people who show up at the airport for our returning athletes, how does the return of an official compare? "No one met me at the airport," Amell laughed. "It was like coming home from any other road trip!" The Olympics is a place where dreams can come true. Most people dream of winning a gold medal but dont tell Derek Amell that his accomplishment is anything less. He just achieved his Olympic goal with a lot less fanfare. And, like a linesman who goes unnoticed when he does a good job, thats the way he likes it.Kyler Fackrell Super Bowl Jersey .C. United on Saturday night and boost the Unions playoff hopes. Nick DeLeon scored in the 36th minute for United (3-23-6), which had ample opportunities to build on its lead but went its 10th straight match without a victory. Clay Matthews Super Bowl Jersey . The traditional pre-Masters event was halted early due to inclement weather. Harrington, who tied for first in 2003 and won in 2004, became the first three-time champion of the event.MANCHESTER, England - Liverpools group-stage exit from the Champion League marked a new low in a disappointing season so far for one of the giants of English football. Things could be about to get even worse. Manchester United can deal its fierce rival another blow when the countrys two most decorated clubs meet at Old Trafford on Sunday for what is widely regarded as the marquee fixture on the English calendar. You can watch the game live on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4 and TSN5 at 8:30am et/5:30am pt. In last seasons Premier League, Uniteds decline was as stunning as Liverpools rise to second place under Brendan Rodgers. Now the opposite is true. Far from in top form, United is seeking a sixth straight win to continue what could yet be an unexpected challenge for the league title with Chelsea and Manchester City. Liverpool is languishing in ninth place, dropped out of the Champions League on Tuesday and is looking a shadow of the side that wowed the Premier League with its attacking verve in 2013-14. Chelsea leads by three points ahead of a home match against Hull on Saturday, while second-place City travels to last-place Leicester. Here are some things to know about the upcoming 16th round of league matches: ___ LOW LIVERPOOL Barely six months after being hailed for reviving a fallen power, Rodgers is under increasing pressure at Liverpool. Across the board, we have been looked at and analyzed, Rodgers said after Tuesdays 1-1 draw against Basel that eliminated Liverpool from the Champions League. For us, the solution is simple: We have to be better in our performance level ... but we have to realize where we have come from. Last seasons second-place finish perhaps placed unrealistic expectations on the Reds but they have still been a major disappointment. With Daniel Sturridge out and his replacement Mario Balotelli also injured, it is hard to imagine Liverpool repeating its 3-0 win over United at Old Trafford in March. We need to get our main striker Daniel Sturridge back and get some more goals in the side, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said. ___ UNITED ON THE MARCH Could Man Unnited muscle in to the Premier League title race? It would have seemed highly unlikely just a month ago, but the 20-time champions should not be counted out. Montravius Adams Super Bowl Jersey. Eight points behind Chelsea and five adrift of City, United is getting results despite falling below the standards demanded by manager Louis van Gaal. Just imagine what could happen if the team starts to hit form. With no European football to clog up its schedule and out of the League Cup early, Uniteds campaign has echoes of Liverpools last season when Rodgers benefited from having a whole week to prepare for league games. Its fantastic to be third in the table, Van Gaal said after Mondays unconvincing 2-1 win at Southampton, but I had hoped we would manage that with a better performance. ___ CONFIDENT CITY By beating Roma 2-0 away on Wednesday to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League, Man City continued on a rich vein that has seen the team win its last six games in all competitions. It also showed that talk of City being a one-man team is wide of the mark. Sergio Aguero is set to be out for up to six weeks with a knee injury, depriving City of its top scorer and biggest attacking threat. Fellow strikers Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic are back fit, though, as is playmaker David Silva, while midfielders Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri have chipped in with goals in recent matches. Playing with a belief that was lacking a month ago, City will be confident heading into likely relegation candidates Leicester, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion, Burnley and Sunderland over the next three weeks as it looks to keep the pressure on Chelsea. ___ ELSEWHERE With Southampton having lost three straight games to slide out of the top four, West Ham is the unexpected name currently occupying a Champions League spot. Revived under manager Sam Allardyce, West Ham is fourth heading into a match at Sunderland on Saturday. Fifth-place Southampton looks to rebound from defeats to Man City, Arsenal and Man United when it visits Burnley. Arsenal hosts Newcastle in a game between the sixth- and seventh-place teams. ' ' '