Stanley Cup dream becomes reality

Steve Kozari is excited about being chosen to officiate Stanley Cup finals and his family is along for the ride

PENTICTON'S STEVE KOZARI has reached his dream of officiating in the Stanley Cup Final

PENTICTON'S STEVE KOZARI has reached his dream of officiating in the Stanley Cup Final

Steve Kozari of Penticton has reached the pinnacle of hockey officiating.

The 40-year-old is realizing his dream of working the Stanley Cup finals as part of the crew picked for the New York Rangers-Los Angeles Kings series. Kozari worked Game 1 Wednesday and is scheduled for Game 3. Games 5 to 7 not assigned yet.

“It’s an honour for my family and myself to be awarded the Stanley Cup finals,” said Kozari, who said this would never happen without the support of his wife Diana, of 17 years, and their sons Jackson, 15, and Nate, 13.

Kozari is joined by Wes McCauley, Dan O’Halloran and Brad Watson, while the linesman are Derek Amell, Scott Driscoll, Brad Kovachik and Shane Heyer of Summerland.

“This playoffs has been intense. It’s been great. The games have never been so close,” said Kozari, a 10-year NHL referee with 55 playoff games under his belt. “We’ve had multiple overtimes.”

While players expect to sustain bumps, bruises or major injuries, Kozari has also collected a few.

In the opening round between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings, he broke his cheek bone when he was struck by a puck near the boards on a clearing attempt by Bruins defenceman Dougie Hamilton. He was looked after, then returned to finish the game.

In the second round between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, he went down three times, once landing on his shoulder and he also hitting his head on the ice.

Kozari, who officiated Penticton Panther games when he worked the BCHL circuit for five years, is healthy now, but joked it’s not over yet.

“Playoffs are the playoffs. It’s the best hockey of the year and it’s just so ramped up. Competitive atmosphere in the game.”

Officiating in the Stanley Cup Finals has been an end goal for Kozari after watching fellow officials Don Koharski, Bill McCreary and Kerry Fraser on TV.

After his stint in the BCHL, Kozari made the jump to the WHL for 10 years, then spent four in the AHL before reaching the NHL.

When things were going well in the WHL, he saw the opportunity to reach his dream.

“I knew it was a long road. It was a long road,” said Kozari, who operates an officiating school in Penticton. “You gotta pay your dues and travelling through the West Coast and western part of Canada to get there. It’s finally paid off. I have to take every bit of this in.”

As Kozari soaks in this experience, his wife and kids will be along for the ride.

“They are very excited,” said Kozari.

The family will be in New York for three days and plan to visit to Madison Square Gardens.

“They are going to get a chance to skate on the ice,” he said.

“They are excited about going to the game and being a part of it. That’s a huge thing.”

 

Just Posted

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Sandra Krauer, Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki and Barb Hoolaeff were in Skaha Park to announce the return of Ribfest for September, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Ribfest returns to Penticton

Festival runs from Sept. 17 - 19 at Skaha Lake Park with proceeds going to new splash park

Fiery crash on the Okanagan Connector between two semis. (Facebook)
One dead after fiery Okanagan Connector crash between two semis

DriveBC estimates road won’t be open until 5 p.m.

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Turn out is high in advance voting for the Penticton by election taking place Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Screen shot)
Over 2,500 already voted in Penticton by-election

General voting day is Saturday, June 19

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)
B.C. government to allow home cannabis delivery starting July 15

Added convenience expected to persuade buyers to ‘go legal’

Festivals Kelowna president Richard Groves and executive director Renata Mills wrap themselves in the flag during the announcement of preparations for the 2018 Canada Day festival. (Alistair Waters/Capital News)
Festivals Kelowna cancels Canada Day celebrations for second year in a row

The group cited logistic issues in their announcement

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Central Okanagan Public Schools is assisting with the distribution of a donation of $500 to every Grade 12 graduating student in the school district. (File photo)
Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads get $500 surprise

Anonymous donor gifts $500 to every Grade 12 student

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Lady Dia, pictured with her son Glory, is a Kelowna artist. She recently received $10,000 in funding for her podcast MoM:ents. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Lady Dia selected as City of Kelowna’s artist in residence

Dia will release a project designed to discuss and shape the future of a more inclusive Kelowna

Birch Parlee is one of approximately 132,000 transgender people living across the nation, according to Statistics Canada. Photo submitted
Transgender in a small town – Princeton B.C.

“I buried it. I pushed it down. I lived a lie.”

Most Read