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Chris McGuirk hangs up skates after two decades as a WIAA ref

02/19/2021, 9:15am CST
By Michael Trzinski & Bill Berg Jr, WiPH Staff

He worked in ten state tournaments, including two title matches

When Chris McGuirk walked off the ice Thursday night in Spooner, it marked the end of a 20-year career as a WIAA hockey official in Wisconsin.

In a season where the world was topsy-turvy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it seemed strange that the game between Superior and Lakeland at the Spooner Civic Center in the middle of February was a state semifinal game. But it marked the tenth time McGuirk laced up his skates in WIAA state tournament competition, including the last seven years.

He was an official in two boys' championship games: 2013 and 2018.

McGuirk was born in Dublin, Ireland and moved with his family to the Toronto area when he was a toddler. McGuirk's father coached hockey in Toronto and Chris fell in love with the game.

Chris and his family moved to Menasha in 1999 and he continued playing, coaching and reffing, all the while passing along his passion to his children. Son Michael worked on the ice with his dad on-and-off for many years. Michael, along with sisters Erin and Leigh, all played youth hockey.

"It was a great thing that we got to do together," remembered Michael. "Some amazing father-son memories reffing together."

McGuirk started at the youth level, but became very involved with the WIAA high school level officiating, and also reffed games at the D3 college level.

His resume includes:

  • USA Hockey seminar instructor
  • WIAA Master Level hockey official
  • Past president, Fox River Ice Hockey Officials Association
  • Past director, Wisconsin Hockey Officials Association, Region 3

McGuirk is a realtor in the Fox Valley, and is also an assistant coach for the Fox Cities Stars girls team, two-time defending state champion.

He and wife Cheryl have three children: Michael, Erin, and Leigh.

Although he is stepping away from the ice at the high school level, McGuirk plans to turn his focus back to the youth game, particularly mentoring young referees.

"It is always hard keeping young referees in the game," commented Michael McGuirk. "So I think he wants to focus his energy on bringing up the next generation."

We at WiPH wish all the best to our 'second favorite' official in his semi-retirement from officiating.

Farewells

"The NHM Coaching staff and players would like to congratulate Chris on his 20 years of service to the sport of Boys High School hockey.  Chris was always consistent in the way he called a game, is communication was a strong point.  He would talk with the players and coaching staff so you knew what he was seeing on the ice,  he may even have had a few conversations with some unruly fans every now and then.  It is not an easy task to pull on that zebra sweater and to do it 20 years is a real accomplishment and testament to your love of the game.  Best of luck Chris, see you around the rink!"

Jeff Lindemann
Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha

Farewells

Thank you for your service and dedication to the game of hockey.

It just won't be the same without you.  Hopefully this means we'll see you more often playing.

With deepest respect.

John Thomson
Oshkosh ice Hawks 

We will miss you buddy! Enjoyed all our games with you! Didn't matter when we agreed or disagreed always had a ton of respect!! Best of luck and hope to see you around the rink....... the only thing I will always be mad at you for is liking the Maple Leafs!!

Mike Buchan
Bay Port

Chris has been an outstanding official for us locally in the Green Bay area.  Very well respected and handles big game situations like a pro.  Always willing to discuss his view point and listen to ours as coaches.  That is all we can ask for.  I respect the fact that he doesn’t let the outside noise affect him…parents, fans, coaches….I have seen him handle all of the negative comments and push back in a very professional manner.  I always knew that if Chris reffed, the game was going to be managed appropriately for both teams.  He called what needed to be called.  Even if it was an even game, lop sided if one team was more undisciplined.  The standard was of the modern game, which is refreshing to see. 

The part I admire about Chris the most is that he cares about the players. He takes time to ask questions about former players of interest.  He genuinely wants players to succeed and is excited for continued success.  A long time Leaf fan, Chris leaves most springs dejected like the rest of his cult.  We don’t hold that against him….most nights.

Cory McCracken
Notre Dame Academy

"Chris has always conducted himself in a professional manner and understood that referees play a huge role in education based sports. He has always communicated well with players and coaches to make the games as fun as possible for all involved. He is a respected official so when he showed up to the rink you were going to get a fair, well called game. The banter and chats during the games provide some great memories for me personally. We wish him the best in his retirement from officiating and hopefully see him around the rink"

Brian Brandt
Wausau West; President WHCA

Had him more than few times up in Appleton, we always had great games with them when I was at Homestead. He had a great presence and never took any BS, was always really on the boys to play fair and let them play. Every game we were in with him was playoff rules. He's another great piece in the emergence of Wisconsin High School Hockey. The state has come so far in developing talent and that doesn't happen without great people like Chris giving their time. I wish him well.

Maco Balkovec 
Formerly of Homestead and WNS; current Assistant Coach at Bowling Green State University


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