NHL Official: 1998 to 2018

Birthplace: Vernon, BC

Regular Season: 1094 Games (Referee)

Playoffs: 12 Games

Tom Kowal

A Burnaby BC native, Kowal started officiating hockey games at a young age after his dad talked him into it in order to learn a little bit more respect for the game. He quickly realized that it was also a great way for a young man to get free ice time while earning a few bucks. He worked his way up through all levels of amateur hockey around Vernon BC. and his communication skills made him a quick prospect for higher levels. At the age of 18, he left his hometown to pursue his dream of being an NHL referee. The Western Hockey League (WHL) then hired him, a league he would end up working for a total of 10 seasons. Then the big call came in when the National Hockey League offered him a NHL Minor Leagues Referee contract in the summer of 1998 at the age of 30. He made his NHL debut on January 28, 2000 in Raleigh NC when the New Jersey Devils were in town to play the hometown Hurricanes. After a few seasons in the minors, Kowal was promoted to a NHL full-time referee status. During his 20 years journey under contract with the National Hockey League, Kowal had the honor of being selected to work the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in the same city where he made his NHL debut; Raleigh NC. He also worked the 2014 Heritage Classic held at the BC Place in Vancouver, a game that featured the Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks. He reached the 1,000 NHL Regular Season Game milestone on January 19, 2017 in Calgary AB when he skated in a game between the Nashville Predators and the Flames. He retired on March 31, 2018 in Boston MA after working a game between the Florida Panthers and the hometown Bruins. He hanged his whistle with a final count of 1,094 NHL Regular Season games while also been selected to work 12 NHL Playoffs games.

Milestones

First NHL Game

January 28, 2000

1000th Game

January 19, 2017

Final Game

March 31, 2018

All-Star Games

2011 -- RALEIGH, NC

RBC Center
January 30, 2011

Outdoor Games

2014 Heritage Classic

March 2, 2014

BC Place
Vancouver, BC