Saturday was a very special day for longtime Ontario Hockey League referee Joe Park who skated his final assignment after 20 years of officiating.
The 46-year-old Barrie resident put on the stripes one last time alongside colleagues Scott Oakman, linesmen Drew Jackson and Justin Knaggs, and before family and friends in attendance at the Molson Centre as the Colts battled the visiting Guelph Storm.
“Joe was a very dedicated official that never turned down an assignment and will certainly be missed on the ice by his peers,” said OHL Director of Officiating Conrad Hache. “He was always supportive of the league and its initiatives but more importantly always supportive of the members of OHL Team 21.”
Park began officiating at the age of 13 before receiving an invite to the OHL’s Officiating Training Camp at 26. He worked five seasons in the league as a linesman before making the switch to referee and wore the orange bands the last 15 years.
“At the age of 13, I was just looking to make some part-time money and so I took up officiating,” Park told Janis Ramsay in a recent article published in the Barrie Advance. “Once you get up to the OHL level, it’s the best junior hockey and you’re exposed to a lot of great players.
“The best way to see a game is obviously on the ice. I remember (top) players moving on, like Joe Thornton. It’s neat to see the progression of all these players in the NHL — all the Staal brothers, the Foligno brothers, Steve Stamkos, John Tavares, Drew Doughty,” he said.
Park has had the honour of working the OHL’s outdoor games in 2013 and is one of two Korean officials in the OHL.
On the ice Saturday, the Storm edged the Colts 5-4 in overtime. Post-game Park was recognized by the Colts as one of the game’s honourary stars followed by a respectful gesture by both clubs who lined up to shake hands with the longtime official. See video below.
Congratulations to Joe on a tremendous officiating career!