Being the gate keeper of the visiting penalty box is akin to being Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry -- keep the culprit locked up long enough to cool off, then turn 'em loose.
At Toyota Center, Bob Hosko of Pasco has opened and closed the door to the visitor's penalty box for more than 1,000 customers over the last 22 years, and he's enjoyed every moment, from meeting the players to watching the games.
"I love it, love it, love it," said Hosko, who will be in the visitor's box Saturday for the start of the Tri-City Americans' 25th season. "Baseball season is a fill-in for hockey. You look at the grass looking for ice. The color of the uniforms, the beauty of the ice -- it's the greatest game on earth."
Growing up on a farm in Prosser, Hosko, 78, got his first taste of hockey in 1941 when his dad, John, took him to his first game.
"When I was 7 years old, my dad took me to a game in Spokane. I loved it from then on," he said. "I remember being in the barn as a teenager milking cows and listening to Hockey Night in Canada. We had a scratchy old radio and we could pick up games out of Calgary."
As he got older, he went to more and more games in Spokane.
"I spent a lot of money going up there," he said. "That was back when there was chicken wire behind the goals. I love the game. Every time they had a vote to build a rink (in Kennewick), I voted for it. People here hated (Ron) Dixon, but without him, we wouldn't have this team."
Dixon, a Canadian businessman, built the Tri-Cities Coliseum in 1987-88 and moved the Americans from New Westminster, British Columbia, for the start of the 1988-89 WHL season.
When the Americans first arrived in 1988, they played on the road until November until the rink was finished. Hosko combed the paper every day for the ad for off-ice officials, but somehow he missed it.
No worries. Three home games into the season, the off-ice officials walked out, and Hosko, who was on the backup list, got called up.
"The management knew it was going to happen," said Hokso, a retired pipefitter. "When I got the call, they had already fired them. I wouldn't have crossed a picket line."
Though Hosko has volunteered his time in the box over the years and gets two tickets to each game, he and his wife Georgia remain season ticket holders, now going on 25 years.
"We do it to support the team," he said.
Hosko started in the home penalty box to get experience. After two years, he got moved to the visitor's box.
"It's a lot of fun," Hosko said. "Most of the players know me by my first name."
And he knows all of theirs. He's had the likes of Ray Whitney, Pat Falloon, Jarome Iginla, Scott and Rob Niedermayer, Dustin Byfuglien, the late Derek Boogaard, Kevin Sawyer, Brandon Dubinsky and Nigel Dawes -- just to name a few -- plant their backsides in his penalty box.
"I have all the old league guides," Hosko said. "I need to add up all the million dollar guys who have sat next to me."
Needless to say, with the heated rivalry between Tri-City and Spokane, Hosko has had plenty Chiefs players in the box with him, and some have been his favorite players over the years, especially Kerry Toporowski.
"Topper was the best enforcer in the league," Hosko said. "No one touched Whitney or Falloon or they got the wrath of Toporowski. One night, he was purple from his hand to his shoulder, but he wouldn't quit. He was tough. He was in (the box) sometimes three or four times a night. He doesn't hold the (Spokane single-season) penalty record for nothing. He was great to me."
Following in Toporowski's footsteps was Sawyer, who "always had something to say."
"When Kevin Sawyer came in there, the fans would really get on him," Hosko said. "One night, he turned around and said, 'Say what you want. I'm rich.' Then he told me he'd signed his contract with Anaheim that morning."
Hosko continues to have a good relationship with Spokane players.
"(Darren) Kramer, I have nothing but love for him," Hosko said. "The first time he came in, he asked, 'How are you tonight?' From then on, we were best buds. No one can say anything bad about him."
And then there's Dustin Donaghy.
"He always had a joke for us," Hosko said. "He was in there quite a bit as a rookie, but his second year he was scoring a lot of goals and we hardly saw him."
He even has a soft spot for Prince George's Charles Inglis (now with Red Deer).
On the night of Oct. 30, 2010, Inglis was in the penalty box in the third period having a chat with Hosko.
"He told me he was going to win the game," Hosko said. "He got the game-winner in the shootout and after the game he skated over and gave me the puck."
To say that Hosko enjoys his job is an understatement. But he's not fond of every player who steps through the door.
The worst to sit in the box?
"There were two, and their last name was Beach," Hosko said of brothers Kyle (Everett, Lethbridge, Spokane) and Cody (Calgary, Moose Jaw). "Kyle Beach, talk about a rotten no good. The first night he came in, the Tri-City kid was on the ice and he was hurt. Beach said 'Gosh, I didn't mean to hurt him -- the hell I didn't,' and he smiled. His brother was just as bad.
"Every time Kyle was in the box, he'd always yell over at the kid in the Tri-City box, 'I'll be in the NHL, how 'bout you?' I had to listen to that night after night. He'd say it to everybody. Where is he now? He's still with Chicago's farm club."
Hosko also has seen the game evolve over the years, and he prefers the new style of play over the old.
"Guys would come in the box and ask if their nose was broken," Hosko said. "The box wall used to be red. They'd be beat so bad they were spitting blood. Now, it's so clean you could eat off of it. My (note) pad has 20 lines on it, and back then I'd fill it every night.
"The last seven years have been wonderful. I wish the fans realized how different it is. We've had some bad owners over the years. There were years where 2,500 was a roaring crowd. It's great to see the people coming back."
Being in the penalty box, Hosko has one of the best seats in the house. He's seen the good, the bad and the banners over the years. And there are a couple of moments that stand out for him.
"Olie's (Kolzig) goal was tremendous," Hosko said. "To be part of that and to hear the crowd, that's something you don't forget."
And last year's Game 7 of the Tri-City-Spokane playoff series after Brendan Shinnimin scored the game-winning goal with 4:18 to play in the third period.
"The crowd was on their feet the last 5 minutes," he said. "Man, that was something. There have been a lot of thrills."
And hopefully many more to come.
"As long as my mind can keep up with it and my knees get there, I will be there," he said.