WATERTOWN, MASS. (WHDH) - Nick Vella has hocked in his blood.

“I love the hitting, I love the fighting,” says the Watertown native.

He started hitting the ice when he was a kid and his love of the game continued as an adult. Nick became a referee through USA Hockey.

“It’s a lot of commitment,” says Nick. “It’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of running around, rink to rink to rink. You can go as far as Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire.”

Every January, Nick renews his referee certification. He gets a background check and takes a test. He also pays an annual fee of $120. This year was set to be Nick’s 25th season in stripes until COVID-19 struck. Not wanting to put his health at risk, Nick decided to retire.

“It’s just time to let it go and let the younger kids take over and enjoy it,” Nick says.

He reached out to USA Hockey for a refund of his application fee. That’s when he ran into some interference.

“They won’t give me the money back,” Nick says.

He says the program organizer told him the fee was non-refundable, but Nick argued that 24 years of service should help him score an exception.

“I committed myself to them all this time,” Nick says.

Nick felt like he was getting checked against the boards, so he called Solve It 7!

We contacted USA Hockey and explained Nick’s situation. The representative pointed out that Nick’s payment was non-refundable, but he was willing to give Nick his money back as a nod to his years of dedicated service.

“Oh Kris, I couldn’t believe it!” Nick says about when he heard the news. “It’s a relief for me just to get it back.”

Now Nick’s happy he has more cold cash!

“I can’t thank you guys enough,” Nick says of Solve It 7. “This is great. This is awesome.”

Nick says he’s having fun these days watching his young son play hockey and is enjoying his reffing retirement.

Got a problem you can’t solve on your own? Maybe we can help. Send us an email to SolveIt7@WHDH.com or give us a call at 617-367-7777.

(Copyright (c) 2023 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox