LAKE STEVENS, Wash. - The sport of hockey has always connected Lake Stevens referee Vaughan Rody to family. Whether it was playing outdoors growing up, or officiating in the National Hockey League.
He refereed his final game at the end of April, capping off a 22-year career with a Kraken win at home over the Colorado Avalanche.
"I grew up playing this game, I love this game, wanted to be a part of this game, realized I wasn’t talented enough to play it and kind of thought, 'jeez, you know, maybe I’m going to have a different path., And that path, with the help of other people, transformed my life," Rody said.
To get into the officiating family, Rody was a Boeing inspector by day and a minor league referee by night.
"I would start my shift at 5:18 in the morning, work til 1:18, finish work, grab a sub sandwich, drive to Portland or Tri-cities or Spokane, do a game, finish, put my travel clothes back on, drive back home get back at one in the morning. Go to bed, wake up and do it all over again. Did that for three years."
That grind turned into Rody working the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NHL All-Star Game and the Kraken franchise home opener.
Rody hails from Winnipeg, Canada, but has made Lake Stevens his home for 27 years.
Despite having more injuries throughout his career than most, he kept getting back in the rink.
His family and friends threw him a party before his final game as ref, capping a sentimental season.
"I lost my brother about a month ago, my oldest brother, so there’s some emotions here tonight. I owe a great deal to these people that aren’t here. Without them being here, I wouldn’t be here."
He got to choose the officiating crew for his last game-- three of his closest friends.
"I’ll miss the guys, my teammates. We grew up playing high-level hockey, we refereed high-level hockey. The games roll on but the guys I work with, those are my brothers, lifelong friends. I’ll take them with me everywhere I go, into my retirement, into my next chapter of life. What I'm going to miss most is my teammates."