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Saskatchewan still represented at Grey Cup — on the officials’ side

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are definitely not playing the Grey Cup on Sunday in Hamilton, but fans can take some comfort knowing the province will be represented.

While two players on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers come from Regina, two Saskatchewan-based officials are making their way to the CFL’s biggest game to make sure players follow the rules.

The Canadian Football League (CFL) released its roster of officials for the big game, with referee Tim Kroeker from Saskatoon and umpire Troy Semenchuk coming from Prince Albert.

Both have Grey Cup experience. Semenchuk is headed to his second while Kroeker is going to his 6th championship game, although it will be his first as referee.

“This is our championship,” said Kroeker. “We want to work the last game just like the players want to be in the last game.”

Despite being expected to make the tough calls at the highest level on Sunday, Kroeker didn’t get involved in football until later in life when he became a teacher.

“My first principal Al Mitchell was an official and he was the one that asked me to come out and work football,” Kroeker told CTV News. “I had officiated basketball in high school and I said ‘ya, I'd like to stay involved in sport.’ And that's how it all got started.”

Officiating crews are picked the week before the championship, combining members of different crews from coast to coast. And while there are nerves going into it, that all stops at kickoff.

“It's just big kids playing a little kids game,” said Troy Semenchuk, making his second appearance at the Grey Cup as umpire. “So as soon as we kick off, you fall into your mechanics and your routine and you don't have time to be nervous at that point because you have a job to do.”

Just like players, officials enjoy the chance to share this experience with family.

“This one’s extra special, my moms flying in from Phoenix to watch the game and be in the stadium,” Semenchuk said. “So to be able to share this with her, to see it is really a true celebration of football across Canada, it's going to be special for me and my family.”

While he’s excited to be the man in charge in the biggest game of the year, Kroeker understands who the focus is on.

“Players are what the fans come to see and we understand that, and we just want to make sure things are fair,” he said.

Part of the Grey Cup experience is trying to maintain your normal routine, but that can be challenging when there’s more to do.

“We actually have more time for meeting which is really good. But there are a few other things,” said Kroeker.

“We have to meet with TSN, we have to meet with the coaches for the rosters, we have to go check the field, make sure the ref comm’s are working on Saturday. And then just the timing of everything is a little bit longer. Halftime is a little bit longer. Commercial breaks are a little bit longer. So I guess it gives us a chance to kind of soak it in for sure.”

Semenchuk says he’s familiar with the entire crew, but having spent the whole season working with Kroeker in the offensive backfield will make him feel right at home on Sunday.

“We can count on and trust each other back there, so that familiarity is very huge.” he said.

“I have worked with all the other officials at one point or another and they're all so solid. There's no issue of having to worry about any sort of communication gaps or anything like that.”

The 110th Grey Cup between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes goes Sunday at 5 p.m. CST. Top Stories

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