Karlin Krieger still remembers the first game he officiated with his younger sister Kaylah.
It was a Peewee game in Melville, Sask., soon after Kaylah started officiating. He was proud of his sister then and that pride has only grown as the
Krieger siblings have moved up the ranks.
“Because she’s kind of come up behind me, I’m really proud of her,” says Karlin. “It’s exciting to get to watch her grow and develop. We definitely push
each other and give each other advice. She listens to advice from me and I’m amazed at how well she can implement the things I give her to work on and how
quick of a learner she is. It’s a ton of pride.”
This week, the Kriegers – 24-year-old Karlin and 22-year-old Kaylah – are working on either sides of the country at a pair of Hockey Canada national
events. Karlin is in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C., for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, while Kaylah is in Huntsville, Ont., for the National
Women’s Under-18 Championship.
The Krieger siblings are close.
Kaylah started officiating in large part because she saw how much her older brother enjoyed it.
Karlin, like many Canadians, started skating at the age of four or five. He played minor hockey, started officiating at the age of 10 for more ice time and
some pocket cash and, at the end of his second Bantam season, decided to quit playing hockey and focus on his work as a referee.
Kaylah’s path was a little different, as she spent 12 years speed skating before starting to play hockey at the age of 15. When Kaylah was 16, she started
Since then, the Kriegers have followed their own officiating paths but have had the chance to work together on a number of occasions, starting with that
Peewee game in Melville.
On Oct. 11, Karlin and Kaylah worked together during a Manitoba Junior Hockey League regular season game. Kaylah is the lone female official in the MJHL
and says working with Karlin is as good as it gets.
“It’s just the best. It’s so much fun working with Karlin,” says Kaylah. “We’re really close off the ice as well. He’s my best friend. That’s what I tell
everybody. Just being able to work with him is awesome. It’s nice that we share the same passion but we still have our own paths. We do our own games ...
but then being able to come together and officiate together is great. Doing that first Junior A game together, that was really awesome because it’s a
competitive league for both of us.”
The Krieger siblings spend a lot of time together. They grew up in Melville but, recently, the entire family moved to Clear Lake, Man., which is home to
the Kriegers’ family business. Parents Brad and Leanne run and operate the Trading Post in Wasagaming, Man., which is part of the Riding Mountain National
Park one hour north of Brandon. Karlin and Kaylah help run the family business, which is busiest during the spring and summer months.
The Kriegers also have careers, with Karlin working as a youth support worker for a local school division and Kaylah as a power engineer at a hospital, but
the winter months are primarily reserved for hockey and the Kriegers spend most of their time working games, driving to games, or watching each other’s
The two are each other’s biggest fans. Karlin once drove eight hours to watch Kaylah work her first CIS game, and flew to Calgary to watch Kaylah work the
2015 CIS women’s hockey championship.
But while watching each other work is great, the siblings agree that being on the ice together is best.
“I’m really proud of her,” says Karlin, who says his next goal is to make to officiate in the WHL. “At the MJHL level, she deserves to be there. When I
step on the ice with her, I know that the lines are taken care of, that a good job’s going to be done. Referees will always say that our job’s a lot easier
when you have a good linesman. It has gotten to the point with Kaylah where, no matter what game I’m on the ice for, I’m comfortable with her as a
linesman. I’m proud as a big brother, I’m happy as a referee.”
The brother-sister support is complemented by the great support shown by Brad and Leanne. The parents will be in British Columbia watching Karlin at the
under-17s this week and will no doubt keep close tabs on the games in Huntsville.
“They came to watch me last year in Prince George at Canada Winter Games and they’re so supportive,” says Kaylah. “When you’re not really sure how a game
is going, there’s nothing better than when you look up in the stands and your parents are there supporting you. It’s like you have your own little cheering
section and it’s great. It’s very comforting to have that.”