By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two high school hockey players are getting a special treat at Thursday night’s Minnesota Wild game.

They are not meeting the players, but the NHL referees.

This is now the second year the Wild has recognized youth hockey referees.

Let’s face it — the game we love wouldn’t be possible without the zebra stripes on skates.

For nearly as long as they have been putting on hockey uniforms, Daniel Lyons and Kendall Markovic have been putting on their stripes.

“We were like 9 years old when we both started,” Markovic said. “We were probably the youngest kids there, and we were a little intimidated.”

Now the two Hutchinson seniors play games during the week, but on weekend, they are refereeing youth games.

kendall markovic and daniel lyons Minnesota Wild Honor Youth Hockey Referees

Kendall Markovic and Daniel Lyons (credit: CBS)

“There are some games where it gets a little heated [laughs]!” Markovic said.

They can take the heat because they know the rules.

“Both of us have been doing it long enough, and we’ve been playing long enough where we know our stuff,” Lyons said.

But with hockey numbers participation soaring, there’s concern over a lack of refs. That’s why the Wild created the youth hockey referee spotlight — giving refs well deserved recognition.

“Referees are often underappreciated,” said Wayne Peterson of the Minnesota Wild.

“A lot of these kids are high school, the job is very flexible. The can pick and choose the tournaments and games they want to work, and it’s also giving back to the game, too, which is also very important to them,” Peterson said.

They will meet the NHL officials, ask questions and even do a pre-game skate.

“Going to go out there with kind of a business mindset, you know, as if I was going to work that game,” Lyons said. “However, more than likely it will probably get to me, I’ll probably just be awestruck.”

For Daniel and Kendall, it just might open up a whole new career.

“It takes a lot of guts to go out there and try and call the game the way it should be called [laughs]!” Peterson said.

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