October 22nd, 2021.
Tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada, NHL referee Steve Kozari will be celebrating his 1,000th NHL Regular Season Game when the Edmonton Oilers will be visiting the Vegas Golden Knights at the T-Mobile Arena. The Pentiction, British Columbia native has been under contract with the National Hockey League since the summer of 2003. Tonight will be Kozari’s 1,015th NHL Regular Season game as he worked his official 1,000th game back in May 3rd, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona but strict Covid protocol forced him to wait until this season to be able to celebrate this major milestone with friends and family in the building. Kozari who selected his officiating crew for this special game, will be joined on the ice tonight by referee Kyle Rehman along with linesmen Mark Shewchyk and Scott Cherrey.
Kozari who started officiating at a young age back in the Peach City made several stops during his officiating journey to the National Hockey League. He first started officiating all level of minor hockey around his hometown before reaching the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) after a few years. From there, he made the jump to the Western Hockey League (WHL) where he would spend a total of 10 seasons. The man who wears uniform number 40 since hired by the NHL, also worked with the B.C. Sheriff’s office in Pentiction during his early days as a part-time hockey official. Kozari was named best referee of the WHL after the season 2002-03 and was assigned to work the prestigious 2003 CHL Memorial Cup held in Quebec city, QC that spring. His strong showing at the tournament and his consistency as an official during the past several seasons in the WHL earned him an invitation to the defunct NHL Officiating Prospects Camp which was held in Guelph, Ontario in late June that summer. He was offered a NHL Minor League Referee contract while attending the camp.
Steve spent a total of four seasons under the Minor Leagues status before being promoted to a full-time NHL status in the summer of 2007. His skated in his first NHL Regular Season Game at the Savvis Center in St.Louis, MO on October 15th, 2005 when the Nashville Predators where in town to play the St. Louis Blues.
Between his NHL debut and tonight’s game where he will be celebrating his 1,000th NHL Regular Season Game, “Kozy” saw his name inked on numerous important assignments including: 1st NHL Playoff Game (April 14th, 2010 – Ottawa @ Pittsburgh), 2014 Heritage Classic (March 2nd, 2014 – Ottawa @ Vancouver – BC Place), 2016 Stadium Series (February 21st, 2016 – Chicago @ Minnesota – TCF Bank Stadium), 2020 Winter Classic (January 1st, 2020 – Nashville @ Dallas – Cotton Bowl Stadium). Kozari’s resume includes three trips to the Stanley Cup Finals (2014 – Los Angeles Kings vs New York Rangers), (2019 – St. Louis Blues vs Boston Bruins) & (2020 – Tampa Bay Lightning vs Dallas Stars).
The NHLOA would like to congratulate referee Steve Kozari on reaching this amazing milestone.