World News – United States – Cougars coach watches the stripes in NHL finals


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In the O’Rourke hockey family, all eyes are on number 9 in this year’s Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars

Dan O’Rourke doesn’t play for either team, but he wears black and white stripes and plays a leading role on the ice, handing down penalties and enforcing law and order as needed, as he did in matches 3 and 5 of the final

The 48-year-old brother of Prince George Cougars director of player development Steve O’Rourke is one of the few NHL referees to have earned the ultimate honor of working in the series that will determine the champions of the league

« I’m just proud of him, he did a great job and he’s good at what he does, » said Steve, who is two years younger than Dan « You watch the game and I can choose my brother with just how he skates and his size « 

This is the fourth Stanley Cup final of O’Rourke Dan was chosen for the Vancouver-Boston final in 2011, worked the Pittsburgh-San Jose series in 2012 and the Los Angeles-New Jersey final in 2016

« When he played in the Vancouver-Boston final, my parents (Janis and Tom) and I were in the stands for that and it’s a little different because normally parents watch a player but they’re everything as proud of how he came to the NHL as anyone else, ”said Steve

« He’ll probably end up having a career of 20 or 22 years, he still has a lot of years left He’s just turned 48 and he’s in fantastic shape I know they’re trying to plan their succession a bit earlier than before because the game is so fast « 

Dan is in the same bubble as the players and is staying in a hotel suite adjacent to the Rogers Center in Edmonton, where he has been based since the playoffs started in August They have been on trips to Commonwealth Stadium for outdoor practice sessions on the course and played golf with the players, forcing the entire course to be closed to the public during their games

“He’s a mentally strong guy so it didn’t really affect him,” said Steve “His kids are older, but some of these players have newborn kids and that’s a thing. difficult I wouldn’t want to be away from my children for so long « 

Dan is now well through 60 days of quarantine and got to know players like never before in pre-pandemic times

“Officials don’t travel with teams,” said Steve “You can go from town to town with the guys a few times, but most of the time you meet them for the night and make your bets and go out. the next day While that, they’ve formed a pretty good cohort with the day-to-day teams « 

O’Rourke’s path to the top of the officiating world is somewhat unusual Before donning the stripes, he established his reputation as a tough, tough left winger in the Western Hockey League In 57 games in three seasons with the Tri-City Americans and Moose Jaw Warriors, he had eight goals and 28 points and a whopping 438 penalty minutes. He played four seasons of pro minor in the ECHL, the Central Hockey League and the International Hockey League when he decided to join the official ranks.

« He was relatively tough as a player, to say the least, » said Steve « He’s a big man and when he played he was six feet three inches, between 215 and 230 pounds In the old-fashioned game there was a lot of fighting and he was in the mix of that, but he was also a good hockey player and that translated into the NHL He understands the game and understands the guys and he played that certain way where there is respect « You gave him a slash, oh wait, there is another slash, you are same. But if there is a slash he will call it « 

O’Rourke was a quick study in his rise to the NHL In 1997, the year he ended his playing days, his size, skating ability and knowledge of the game brought him to be hired as an ECHL linesman, having attended the Ontario Hockey Association officials camp this summer In his second season only, O’Rourke was selected to work as a linesman on the series of ECHL Kelly Cup Championships The NHL signed him immediately after for a minor league linesman contract and he worked 54 NHL games and 26 AHL games in his first season, including the Calder Cup final series.

He was promoted to a full-time position in the NHL in 2000 as a linesman and when the league moved to a two-official system, O’Rourke became a referee After four seasons as a referee in the AHL and three other Calder Cup finals, he joined the ranks of full-time NHL referees in 2005 He played his 1,000th game in December 2017 and heading into this year’s playoffs he had already whistled 128 playoff games

« He finished on the East Coast and the next year he went from fighting to breaking up and he did it for two seasons, » Steve said

The O’Rourke brothers were born in Calgary and moved to Summerland when they were still young children Steve Kozari, one of the other NHL referees working for this year’s final, grew up in Penticton , near Dan now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and two children and uses it as a hub to travel to games in virtually every NHL city in Canada and the United States.S His oldest, Austin, 23, plays NCAA hockey and is about to start his third season at UMass-Lowell

“Umpires don’t have home games, they go everywhere,” said Steve “Linesmen will work a little up and down (in regions), but umpires, they’ll give it two weeks on the west coast, then home

« These guys are like us (as Cougars coaches) and they might have three or four games a week, but their days off are days off We, we come in and try to work it out. next problem What’s wrong with our frontline center or what’s wrong with the power play? When he gets home he has time with his family and he strives to stay in shape and he can golf in Atlanta all year round. We are in the salt mine the next day after a match « 

Dan’s salary is around $ 500,000 in US dollars, not including playoff bonuses, and Steve says more players should consider becoming official as a profession if they don’t succeed as players.

« The NHL is looking for guys who have played and they are asking for CHL players, NCAA players, to come and get involved because they understand the game and can normally get involved in a game. high level « , he declared

« Kids who are just starting out know the NHL (as a career path), but they don’t know what a referee or linesman does Children who referee and line up games take all the abuse from the start , but they don’t know what that end carrot might be. It’s a good livelihood and you’re on the rinks with the best players « 

Dan is one of the stanby referees for Game 6 today (5 pm start) and will likely be called in to referee Game 7 if necessary on Wednesday The Lightning leads the series 3-2

FREE PUCKS: Ethan, the 21-year-old son of Steve, a former Cougar / Spruce King center who played last year in the BCHL for the Coquitlam Express, left Prince George on Friday for Halifax, where he is on about to start his academic career at Dalhousie University O’Rourke’s season ended abruptly in March when BCHL called off the remainder of the playoffs due to the pandemic The Express was the regular season champion and after sweeping Langley in his opening series, he was one of the favorites to win the Fred Page Cup

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World News – United States – Cougars coach watches the stripes in the NHL finals


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