Referee Keith Kaval made international hockey history today. When he took the ice to referee the game between Sochi and Vityav, Kaval became the first North American official to work a game in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Kaval suited up alongside referee Pavel Komarov and linesmen Alexei Medvedev and Nikita Novikov. The game saw a total of 10 penalty minutes along with two penalty shots.
He spoke prior to working his first KHL game:
Referee Keith Kaval about his forthcoming work at Vityaz – HC Sochi match: pic.twitter.com/768oRwWEqb
— KHL_English (@khl_eng) October 23, 2015
Kaval also becomes just the eighth non-Russian referee, alongside Finland’s Antti Boman, Czech Republic’s Martin Frano and Antonin Jerabek, Kazakhstan’s Eduard Ibatulin, Latvia’s Eduard Odins, Maxim Sidorenko of Belarus, and Switzerland’s Tobias Wehrli.
Kaval has plenty of international experience, having worked three straight IIHF World Championships. The veteran official has also spent time in the AHL, ECHL, and OHL, officiating over 100 events last season.
Last year, the NHL saw referee Evgeny Romasko become the first Russian referee in the NHL. Romasko’s now working full-time in North America, splitting games between the AHL and NHL.
It’s great to see opportunities for these officials on both sides of the pond, as hockey truly is an international game.
Best of luck to Keith Kaval in the KHL!