During the day, Kelsey Mahoney is a police officer in Winnipeg. Come night time, Mahoney is a high-level linesman who is getting set for his big break.
Before we get to that, we’ll take a look at Mahoney’s journey, one that has taken him all across Canada.
Growing up in Winnipeg, Mahoney has worked his way up the ranks. He began by being an official during minor hockey games which led to being an official at the AAA level and for the past 10 years, Kelsey has been a linesman in the Western Hockey League.
He’s made stops in Brandon, Regina, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Calgary, and Red Deer along the way, to line WHL games. He also has been an official for Winnipeg ICE games right in his hometown. The 10-year veteran estimates he’s been an official for roughly 130 Wheat Kings games in Brandon.
Mahoney was also recognized as one of the top officials in the league as he lined four straight league finals from 2015 to 2018.
“It’s been an awesome ride, that’s for sure,” said Mahoney. “It’s been a great experience and I’ve met and worked with a ton of incredible people over the years. I love what I’m doing.”
More than 58,000 people attended the 2016 Memorial Cup in Red Deer — a tournament that was won by the London Knights — as they beat the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the final. After working the final of the WHL that year, Mahoney packed his bags and headed to Red Deer. The Winnipeg native was one of the linesmen at the Canadian Hockey League national championships.
His first game was on day three of the event, Sunday, May 22 when Red Deer dispatched the Huskies, 5-2. Mahoney ended up lining two games at the national tournament.
“Getting that chance was a huge accomplishment for me. It was such a great week,” said Mahoney. “I got to be on the ice with some very high profile players that are now playing in the NHL and that means a lot to me. It was an experience that I will never forget.”
Mahoney will return as a linesman for his 11th season this year, which is expected to start on January 8.
Mahoney was five years into his days as an official in the Western Hockey League when he received another promotion. He was hired as an official in the American Hockey League — a league that features the Manitoba Moose.
The hiring came at the beginning of the 2015-2016 season. Since that, he has lined about 14 games per season.
Mahoney’s final game last season before the novel coronavirus shuttered the rest of the campaign came on Sunday, March 1. He got to witness firsthand his hometown American Hockey League team score just 92 seconds into overtime in a 4-3 thrilling win over Chicago and he got to do so while living out his dream of being a professional hockey official.
“Getting the chance to work with professional players is completely different compared to working with junior players,” said Mahoney. “It’s been a great past few years working in this top tier league.”
Mahoney will also return to line AHL games this upcoming season. The AHL has said they plan on beginning the season on February 5.
Milwaukee was the top team in the league last year when the season was shut down. They were 41-14-5-3 in 63 games.
The IIHF has announced that all officials for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship to be played in Alberta will be from Canada. Usually, there are officials from across the globe, but the IIHF has decided only Canadian officials will work games this year because of COVID-19.
The tournament starts on Christmas Day with Slovakia playing Switzerland. Just over 24 hours later, Team Canada kicks off its tournament with a game against Germany. All games will be played at Rogers Place, including the gold medal game on January 5. Mahoney’s new goal is being an official for that game.
The Winnipeg-born linesman will be a linesman at the event that he grew up watching and he always wanted to work at.
Mahoney and the rest of the officials will arrive in Edmonton on December 13 where they will quarantine in their hotel rooms for a few days. The pre-tournament schedule is set to begin on Sunday, December 20. Canada plays two pre-tournament games against Sweden and Russia.
This will be Mahoney’s third IIHF event. He was a linesman at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U-18 World Championship and the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U-20 World Championships.
“I’m so excited about this. This does mean everything to me, I’ve wanted this for so long,” ended Mahoney. “I’m looking forward to getting to Edmonton and getting on the ice, it’s going to be a pretty surreal feeling.”