PHILADELPHIA -- After a hot shower and a few minutes to decompress, NHL referee Bill McCreary paid his form of highest compliment to this Game 3 overtime victory for the hometown Flyers.
"It was a man's game," said McCreary, who Wednesday night broke the all-time League record for most games officiated -- 43 and counting -- in the Stanley Cup Final. "The players deserve the credit for the way they played. It was a tremendous hockey game."
McCreary passed Hall of Famer Bill Chadwick to top a category that is the telling indicator for a professional hockey official.
"Officials are no different than players who work hard all year to make the last round of the playoffs," McCreary said. "What stands out to me is that I have been selected for the Stanley Cup Final by four different officiating managers. I guess that means I have been consistent enough to break the record. I am very proud of it."
McCreary, 54, said he met "Mr. Chadwick" at a golf tournament some years ago and considered it a "large honor."
McCreary has officiated over 1,600 NHL games since making his League debut in 1984-85. He made his first Stanley Cup Final appearance in the 1994 series between the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks and has worked 15 career Finals (1994-2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010).
McCreary offered what's changed from the stirring 1994 Final and this year's thriller of a series so far: "The game is so much faster, especially with all of the rule changes we have made in the last five years. You have to work together as a team on the ice, as well as with the video officials."
Wednesday's game proved that.