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Canandaigua native officiating hockey on Sochi

Created: 02/12/2014 11:14 PM WHEC.com
By: Justin Granit

Chris Woodworth's dream was to become an NHL official, but after spending years traveling the country in the minors away from friends and family, his vision took a turn.

Even though Woodworth isn't in the NHL,that didn't prevent him from being recognized as one of the best by the Olympic committee.

“There is an art and a science to it. It’s finding that fine line and managing to get through the game and getting along with everybody. It’s not easy by any means,” said Woodworth.

Officiating is a thankless job, one that Woodworth has been at since his days as a teen in Canandaigua.

The mental aspects of officiating are crazy. It’s very intensive. You’re under the microscope constantly,” said Woodworth.

The powers that be took notice of Chris. The 33-year-old has been a linesman for 20 years. After graduating from Genseo, Woodworth landed in the American Hockey League, even officiating his hometown Amerks. Then his defining moment came in the 2012 world championships when NHL All-Star Eric Staal was hit illegally.

“(He) had a very difficult game that I think a lot of guys would struggle with. The host country, Sweden, in front of their home crowd, playing  a top-ranked Canada team and is expected to win. Eric Stahl got kneed, injured very severely. Fortunately I did see it and I was able to make the call,” said Woodworth.

Following the world tour, Woodworth was invited to an Olympic camp where was selected as one of 32 officials to take part in the Sochi Games, naturally making mom proud.

“My mom is obsessed with the Winter Olympics. That really got my parents into hockey, watching the U.S. beat Russia in the 1980 winter Olympics. It’s more special for my mother I think than myself,” said Woodworth.

Like the athletes he will join on the ice, Chris has risen through the ranks of his profession, reaching the pinnacle.

“In my world of officiating, this is the highest honor I can really get. So it proves I have what it takes to work at that high level. So it is special, very special,” said Woodworth.

When not officiating, Woodworth is the general manger at Bill Gray's Iceplex. He is a fixture in the Rochester hockey community.
 



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