SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Wild, in partnership with the National Hockey League Officials Association, today announced the launch of the Minnesota Wild Youth Hockey Referee Spotlight Program.
During five Wild home games this season, beginning with Minnesota's contest against the Boston Bruins tonight, two youth hockey referees will be invited to meet with League referees 90 minutes prior to puck drop. The honorees of the program, one male and one female per game, are selected by the Minnesota Hockey Officials Association (MHOA).
In addition to meeting the NHL officiating crew, each youth referee will receive two tickets to that night's game, recognition in-arena, and be featured on a dedicated page on wild.com.
"Refereeing is a great way for kids and young adults to be involved in hockey," said Chuck Fletcher, general manager for the Minnesota Wild. "We hope the opportunity to meet and learn from NHL officials will be inspiring and beneficial to their refereeing careers."
The first pair of youth official honorees, featured on Nov. 17, is Hailey Lachinski and Brandon Taylor, both from Blaine. Lachinski has been primarily officiating Squirt and 8U-level games for the past year, and Taylor has nine years of refereeing experience at the Bantam/15U and high school levels.
Before Thursday's game, Lachinski and Taylor met with NHL referees Brad Meier and Steve Kozari and linesmen Lonnie Cameron and Brian Mach to learn about their professional refereeing experiences. They answered questions and provided the young refs helpful advice for navigating challenging in-game situations.
The remainder of the Minnesota Wild Youth Hockey Referee Spotlight Program meet-and-greets will take place on the following dates: Dec. 13 (Wild vs. Panthers), Jan. 17 (Wild vs. Devils), Feb. 16 (Wild vs. Stars) and March 21 (Wild vs. Sharks).