EDMONTON -- While many Canadians will tune into the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships beginning December, three local officials will be seeing it live and up close.

Kyle Kowalski, Deion Foster, and Fraser Lawrence make up what is believed to be the first trio of Edmonton officials assigned to the annual holiday event.

“I’m excited to get in the bubble to honest,” said Kowalski. “Like, lock me down. Let’s play some hockey.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions meant the International Ice Hockey Federation was forced to select an all-Canadian lineup of officials.

“I think calling my parents and my family and stuff was more exciting than me getting the news, almost,” Foster told CTV News Edmonton.

“For me, it was unexpected,” explained Kowalski.

“Something you always think about, but you don’t really think it’s going to happen.

It’s the payoff of years of hard work by the refs – including many early hours and long roadtrips while earning their stripes.

“We’ve spent numerous hours in the car, in the airports by ourselves, driving late nights just so we could get a chance to work this tournament,” said Lawrence, who has previous experience at the World Juniors.

The trio came up through the refereeing ranks together and now they hope to team up for at least one game in the tournament bubble.

“It’s like a really solid hockey line that’s been playing together forever - so hopefully,” said Kowalski.

The World Junior tournament begins at Rogers Place on Christmas Day with the gold medal game slated for Jan. 5. Team Canada's first game is slated for Dec. 26.