Longtime referee to be honored as puck drops on boys state hockey tournament

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High school hockey fans are back at the Xcel Energy Center cheering on their teams.

The Minnesota State High School League Boys Hockey Tournament got underway Wednesday.

Thursday night the tournament will honor longtime referee John Bartz for 50 years of service. Over the years, Bartz has officiated thousands of high school hockey games.

“It’s very nice they would recognize me,” Bartz said. “I’m overwhelmed.”

“I think what you see right now of this year’s tournament is a result of people like John and all the hard work they put into it,” MSHSL Associate Director Bob Madison said. “They often don’t remember it hasn’t always been at the Xcel Energy Center, hasn’t always been two classes, we always haven’t had a boys and girls tournament. John Bartz is one whose name and fingerprints are all over that.”

Bartz attended his first state high school hockey game way back in 1948.