This Kelowna WHL ref is donning the stripes one last time

He’ll bid farewell at the Memorial Cup

Kelowna's Steve Papp, a WHL referee with an impressive 19-season career, is preparing to officiate his final games on the grandest stage of major junior hockey: the Memorial Cup in Kamloops.

While this marks a significant milestone, Papp is no stranger to such high-profile events, having previously served on the officiating team in Regina (2017), and Windsor (2018).

Reflecting on his decision to retire from refereeing at the age of 38, Papp told's Regan Bartel now is the right time to hang them up.

"In this world, I'm kind of an old guy, believe it or not," he admitted. "These young players, that are 17, 18, and 19, they’re getting faster, and I’m getting kind of slower."

Papp's illustrious career has not only taken him to various leagues across North America but also to international destinations.

One memorable opportunity came in 2014 when he officiated the gold medal game between Finland and Sweden at the World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden.

"Going there was the highlight of my career, despite not making it to the NHL," Papp recalled. "It was a unique occurrence when Canada didn't reach the final, and surprisingly, it worked in my favor. I'll never forget Rasmus Ristolainen's overtime goal—an exhilarating game amidst an electric atmosphere. It truly was an unbelievable experience."

Check out for a longer chat with Steve.

Published 2023-05-25 by Connor Chan

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