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Usually when you retire, the last thing you want to hear is your former employer asking you to come back, but not in Steve Papp’s case.
The 19-year WHL referee from Kelowna retired after the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds playoff series this past postseason.
But then Papp got a call that few refs receive. He had been selected as a referee for the upcoming Memorial Cup in Kamloops.
“There are so many amazing officials in the Western Hockey League that are capable of going…it was just nice to hear my name called for it,” Papp told KelownaNow.
This is the third time Papp will officiate the prestigious tournament, as he was also an official at Windsor in 2017 and Regina in 2018.
Using these past experiences, Papp has an idea of what to expect and instead of feeling nervous, he’s excited to get started.
“The term we always use is that the glass goes all the way up. Once you step on that ice, you just go and do the same job you've been doing to get you there,” Papp said about the Memorial Cup.
Being selected to officiate at the Memorial Cup is a special experience for officials, but this time will be extra special for Papp.
“You try to do your best on the ice, but you also soak it all in, and for myself being in my last year, I know I'll just be soaking it in pretty good,” added Papp.
Papp is excited for this to be his final tournament, especially because he will be out on the ice with officials whom he's been close with over the years and the location of the tournament is near and dear to him.
“The city of Kamloops holds a big piece of my hockey career, I had some family there so it's nice to end it all there as well," said Papp.
“Kamloops’ fan base has been tremendous through the playoffs so I imagine that arena (Sandman Centre) is gonna be really loud and a lot of fun in there."
Once the tournament is completed, Papp plans to enjoy his summer with his girlfriend and two kids, especially because he can relax and not have to worry about training and preparing for the upcoming season.