For the first time ever, the British Columbia Hockey League is recognizing officials and has named the Kelly Sutherland Top Referee Award winner and the Brad Lazarowich Top Linesman Award winner.

The inaugural winner of the Kelly Sutherland Award is 10-year BCHL veteran Steve Papp. The Kelowna resident, who also referees in the Western Hockey League and is a Level 6 official, was selected last season to work in the Doyle Cup and the RBC Cup.

“Steve has the utmost respect of the teams and his peers,” said BCHL director of officiating Derek Adams. “For the past few years, Steve has acted as a mentor to our younger officials in the league and has been a big part of helping these officials adjust to Junior A hockey.”

The inaugural winner of the Brad Lazarowich Award is another 10-year BCHL official in Jason Cramer. Known as “JC” to his colleagues, Cramer took the unusual step this season of being both a referee and linesman and had great success at each role.

“JC is committed to giving back to help younger officials in BCHL by dedicating his time to instruct and teach at referee schools such as the BC Hockey Summer Officiating Camp in Osoyoos,” noted Adams. “JC was also one of the main organizers for Movember, which is a charitable cause to grow a mustache to raise money and awareness for prostate cancer among officials from across Canada.”

Cramer also works as a linesman in the WHL and referees in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League.

The recipients of these awards were chosen by a group of former and current officials, including Derek Adams, who evaluate the officiating staff around the BCHL. Papp and Cramer each also receive $500, of which $250 will be donated to charities of their choice.

The awards are named after BCHL alumni Kelly Sutherland and Brad Lazarowich, now both top officials in the National Hockey League.

Brent Mutis