National Hockey League referee Tim Peel has done this many times before. Tonight, though, it’ll be different.
For 999 regular season games, Peel has pulled on the black-and-white stripes, laced up his skates, and taken the ice. When he drops the puck between the Canadiens and Jets tonight in Winnipeg, he’ll join a select group of NHL officials who’ve worked 1,000 games. Peel will be working his milestone game with referee Brad Watson and linesmen Brad Kovachik and Lonnie Cameron.
Peel, a native of Hampton, New Brunswick, joined the NHL Officials Association in 1995. He suited up for his first National Hockey League game on October 21, 1999, when the Colorado Avalanche took on the Ottawa Senators. His NHL debut came alongside fellow referee Don Van Massenhoven and linesmen Pat Dapuzzo and Brad Kovachik, the latter of whom will take the ice with Peel tonight.
Peel made his postseason debut on April 17, 2002, when he worked a first-round game between the Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks. He’s worked a total of 60 playoff games, making it as far as the Conference Finals in 2010 and 2011.
Peel was one of fourteen referees selected to work the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He officiated the bronze medal game between Finland and USA alongside KHL referee Konstantin Olenin.
He stepped outdoors for the 2009 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, which he refereed alongside the now-retired Bill McCreary, with linesmen Andy McElman and Dan Schacte, who hung up the skates in 2012. Peel was also chosen to work the 2012 All Star Game.
He’s seen milestone games before. Peel was on the ice for Gordie Howe’s final professional game – Howe skated one shift with the IHL’s Detroit Vipers at age 69. Peel also officiated the 1000th game of long-time Blues forward Keith Tkachuk.
Peel, who currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri, is the 25th NHL Referee to hit 1,000 games. Among active NHL referees, that includes Paul Devorski (1,590 games), Dave Jackson (1,397), Dennis LaRue (1,222), Dan O’Halloran (1,144), Brad Watson (1,096), Greg Kimmerly (1,073), and Mike Leggo (1,065).
Congratulations to Tim and his family on all the hard work, dedication, and support that’s helped him reach this milestone. Now go have some toasted ravioli to celebrate!