by Kevin Oklobzija Democrat and Chronicle December 2, 2013
Though he played hockey growing up in Canandaigua, Chris Woodworth was smart enough to know he wasn't ever going to be scoring goals in the NHL.
So about the time he headed off to college, he traded his stick and gloves for officiating stripes.
"I knew I was better at taking the pucks out of the net than putting the puck in the net," he now jokes.
Woodworth has indeed become very good at determining icing, whether a play is offside and how a puck ended up in the stands.
That's why he'll be in Sochi, Russia, officiating men's hockey at the Winter Olympics. Laura Johnson, who began her playing and officiating career in Texas and now lives in Rochester, will make the trip, too. She will work the lines for the women's tournament.
"I'm on Cloud Nine right now," Johnson, 28, said.
Both were among 14 linesmen asssigned to work the Winter Games by the International Ice Hockey Federation (six are from the NHL). The IIHF also selected 14 referees (seven are NHL referees).
"Never in a million years did I think I would get there this fast," said Woodworth, 33, who by day (and night) manages Bill Grays Regional Ice Plex.
Woodworth has been working as an American Hockey League linesman for eight seasons and is also a supervisor for USA Hockey's officiating development program.
Each country sends its top-rated officials to the international camp, and the IIHF then makes the final selections. Woodworth and Johnson cannot officiate USA games at the Olympics. NHL officials can, however, work a game in which their native country is participating.
Woodworth was assigned to work the 2013 World Championships in Sweden and Finland, and very likely scored high marks with IIHF evaluators during the quarterfinals.
He was the only member of the four-man officiating crew to see Sweden's Alex Edler deliver an illegal knee-to-knee hit on Canada's Eric Staal. Staal suffered a serious knee injury, and Edler was suspended for four games (the semifinals and finals of the World Championships, plus two games at the Sochi Olympics).
This will also be Johnson's first Olympic event. She worked the Women's World Championships in 2012 and 2013.