DRAYTON – As an NHL linesman, Drayton's Scott Cherrey is used to things moving fast.
The same can be said about his career, as Cherrey celebrated working his 1,000th game as an NHL official last Sunday as the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the New York Islanders.
“It was just crazy to kind of reflect and look back and see how fast things have gone by,” Cherrey said in a phone interview.
Cherrey said he has been involved in hockey in some way for most of his life. He began playing minor hockey in his hometown of Drayton before playing for Listowel’s Jr. B team at 16.
From here, he was drafted as a left winger with the North Bay Centennials in the OHL, playing four seasons which included a championship win in 1994. Cherrey was also drafted 41st by the Washington Capitals that same year but ultimately didn’t sign an NHL deal.
“I committed a lot of my teenage years to trying to play the highest level, ultimately didn’t the end goal as far as a player, but officiating definitely allowed me to stay in the game and be part of it,” Cherrey said. “It really was a different avenue for me that’s worked out quite nicely. It’s just funny how things work out.”
He explained he first put on the stripes when he signed up for the now-defunct North American School of Officiating in Guelph in 2002.
Cherrey, who new resides in Kitchener, said he liked the more physical nature of it and saw it as a path towards the NHL.
“What really intrigued me was you had the home team, you had the visiting team and then you have an officiating team,” Cherrey said. “I could tell right away there was a brotherhood there that I was intrigued by.”
He spent a few years working games for the Ontario Hockey Association, then the OHL and the American Hockey League before getting hired on contract with the NHL in 2007. After a season split between NHL and the American League games, Cherrey was hired on full-time.
Now, 1,000 games later, Cherrey said he is happy to reach such a milestone.
His parents, wife and three children joined him on the ice Sunday for a brief ceremony in recognition of this milestone where he was presented with a commemorative Tiffany crystal by Stephen Walkom, senior vice-president of officiating.
“Just thrilling and we’re just numb with excitement,” said John Cherrey, Scott’s father.
“It was a great day and he just deserves it there. They really are a professional group.”
The younger Cherrey said he was happy to get to share that moment with his family on Sunday.
“John and Linda (his parents), they had a lot of sacrifices growing up as far as just, you know, time on the road and all that stuff driving me all over Ontario,” Cherrey said.
“Then obviously my wife Christa and I have three great kids, Tyson, Katelynne and Kaese. They’re able to allow me to do this job and to have their support behind the scenes is amazing.”