Kitchener linesman laces up skates for 1,000th game
A Kitchener linesman has joined an elite club, lacing up his skates for his 1,000th regular season game on Sunday night.
Kevin Hastings is only the third official in the history of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) to reach the rare milestone.
"I still feel like a young kid going out there an enjoying," Hastings said Sunday. "You gotta enjoy what you do, and I love what I do."
Now in his 22nd OHL season, Hastings' list of accomplishments has grown along with his love for the game.
He's worked 10 OHL championship final series, a pair of OHL All Star games, hundreds of OHL playoff matchups and an NHL Top Prospects game.
He's also earned himself "The Bodie" — an OHL award given to officials with outstanding passion, dedication and leadership.
"(I) had a lot of phone calls this morning from guys I used to work with years ago and that," Hastings said. "It was nice to talk to them and reminisce about old days."
Region of Waterloo Coun. Tom Galloway is among those who can reminisce with Hastings. This year marks Galloway's 54th season timekeeping and scorekeeping for the Kitchener Rangers, and he's watched Hastings from the very beginning.
"He wants to make sure he does a good job," Galloway said of his colleague. "He works really hard out there and there's a lot young officials that can learn from Kevin Hastings."
Young players too recognize the value in what Hastings brings to every game.
"He does a really good job," Kitchener Rangers Captain Francesco Pinelli said. "He likes to joke around so it brings that fun element to the game."
It's that joy and work ethic that's kept him going since he worked his very first OHL game in 1999.
"Work hard. Skate like it's your last game and enjoy the ride," Hastings advised.
And that ride isn't over. Hastings isn't ruling out another 1,000 games just yet.
"We'll see," he said when asked. "I got a couple more years in this old body, so we'll just take it a year at a time."