South Boston’s own Chris Rooney will be honored for working his 1000th NHL game tonight as the Washington Capitals take on the Boston Bruins.

Rooney will take the ice alongside fellow American referee Ian Walsh – who reached the 1000-game mark earlier this season – and linesmen Brian Murphy and Derek Amell.


The veteran official made his NHL debut on November 22, 2000, working a game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers. His first playoff game came just three years later, officiating a game between the Senators and Islanders on Long Island.

“From the day I started, I wanted to be a referee in the NHL,” said Chris Rooney told The Hockey News. “So I reffed all youth hockey and Jr. B and Jr. C through high school. When I graduated, I went to college for a year and after that I moved out to Des Moines, Iowa and worked the USHL for two years. Then I did three years as an NHL trainee and that’s when the NHL signed me to a contract.”

Rooney has refereed two Stanley Cup Finals – Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils (2012) and Chicago Blackhawks vs. Boston Bruins (2013).  Internationally, Rooney worked the 2010 Winter Olympics and was scheduled to officiate the 2016 World Cup of Hockey before being sidelined with an injury in training camp.  Rooney also handled the 2015 All-Star Game.

From the NHLOA:

Rooney is a proud alumnus of the USA Hockey Development Program. He was hired under a minor league referee contract with the National Hockey League in the summer of 1999 at the age of 24. He would go on and spend three seasons in the minors before being promoted to a full time NHL referee status in the summer of 2002.

Rooney wore sweater number 21 in his early years as a full time NHL referee but agreed to switch to number 5 when former NHL referee and now NHLOA Alumni Don Van Massenhoven asked him to trade numbers.

Congratulations to Chris Rooney on this milestone achievement.