Danny Nelson with his signature blast in Stillwater last December
Each year YHH watches hundreds of games, hosts tournaments all over the state, and collects some great information on thousands of players. There are so many great stories of so many great kids.
In 2013, we began handing out the Wiz Wyatt Player of the Year Award as a way to recognize players for athletic, academic and leadership achievement. Our criteria for the award is pretty simple.
The award is NOT given to the best player in the state. When you read the accomplishments of Wiz Wyatt, you will see that he was a rare and talented athlete who was respected both on the field, in the locker room and in the classroom. I was fortunate to have been coached by Wiz, and he was a tremendous balance of teacher, mentor and friend.
Wiz Wyatt was a highly-decorated three-sport star at Minneapolis West in the early 1970's. After graduating from West, he went on to Harvard and played hockey for the Crimson for his collegiate career. Post-graduation, Wiz coached youth hockey in Minneapolis and Edina both as a non-parent and parent volunteer. He currently lives in Edina with his wife Jane and is the father of four adult children Susan, Mary, Michael, and Jessie.
Ben Miller, Woodbury
Player: Ben Miller
School: Lake Middle School
Sports: Hockey and Baseball
Parents: Greg and Julie
Ben Miller has the right stuff. He's a grade A hockey talent with a matching report card. He's heavily involved in school and sports year-round. This past year, Miller was recognized by the South Washington County school district as a Lake Leader of Excellence. An administrator at Ben's school told YHH, "Ben is the type of person who cares about everyone in the class...he's special."
On the ice he is special, too. Last year, he played a big role in the Predators winning the state championship in Duluth. This year, he and line-mate Lucas Mann have Woodbury headed back to state this week in Stillwater. Win or lose, this group of Preds - Tanner Henricks, Miller, Will Skahan and Tanner Zolnosky have had a great run together.
Danny Nelson, Osseo Maple Grove
Name: Danny Nelson
Hometown: Maple Grove
School: Maple Grove Middle School
Team: Osseo-Maple Grove
Sports: Hockey, Baseball, Golf
Parents: Victor and Barb
When hockey people think of Danny Nelson, they think of a big and powerful player who can take over a game. What gets missed with the naked eye is a player who moves the puck and sees the game well.
Add "straight A student" to the front of his name, Danny is a better student than he is an athlete. The seventh grade Nelson aced his first semester this fall at Maple Grove Middle School. Danny is not a vocal leader. He's the type of kid who always has a smile on his face and is driven to succeed. His will to win and charisma make him a great leader and candidate for the award.
Max Plante, Hermantown
Name: Max Plante
School: Hermantown Middle School
Sports: Hockey, Soccer, Baseball, Trapshooting
Parents: Derek and Kristi
There is a relatively new term used these days for people called a "try-hard". Try-hards are people that ruin the fun in gym class by going 110% or sliding into second at the company picnic softball game. If you've ever seen Max Plante play hockey, he is the guy who is ruining the fun for the other team with his smarts and hustle.
Over the past three seasons Max has won six YHH tourney MVP awards (2016 AAA State, 2017 AAA State, 2017 PeeWee Challenge, 2017 Big Pumpkin, 2018 Western States and 2018 PeeWee Challenge).
On top of his hockey ability, Max is a 3.5 student at Hermantown Middle School and plays as many sports as time will allow.
Sam Scheetz, Chaska Chanhassen
Name: Sam Scheetz
Team: Chaska Chanhassen
Sports: Hockey, Soccer, Baseball
Parents: Jeremy and Katie
Wiz Wyatt was a great athlete, great student and a consummate leader. He was undersized, but a hot pistol in the corners and the type of player that lead by both his actions and words.
Sam Scheetz is a carbon copy of Wyatt. An A student with a huge heart and ability to connect with his peers and adults. Scheetz plays the game much like Wyatt did as well. Torrid speed that makes him hard to stop and a very high hockey IQ. One of his teachers at Breakaway Academy described Sam succinctly, "Sam excels in all areas of his life. Academically he is a high-end thinker, athletically a hard competitor and socially a loyal friend to his buddies."
Drew Stewart, Minnetonka
Name: Drew Stewart
School: Minnetonka West Middle School
Sports: Hockey, Soccer, Golf, Tennis
Parents: Dan and Rachel
Each month of the season we evaluate teams and subsequently players based on performance. In all four months Minnetonka made their mark and number 13 Drew Stewart was usually the one carrying the Sharpie® for the Skippers. He led the Skippers to the Edina Invitational finals including a four goal performance against number-one Chaska Chan. He was on the all-tournament team in the Founder's Cup in January where Tonka took second to Woodbury. Then in late February he scored the game winning goal in overtime against Osseo-Maple Grove to lead his team to state.
And that is just the hockey. Drew plays year-round soccer and competitive tennis and golf when he's not playing hockey. Carrying an eye-popping 3.91 GPA at Minnetonka West Middle school, Stewart has not forgotten what is most important.
His coach Nick Heiberg when asked to describe Stewart, "He checks all the boxes...great player, great kid and really fun to coach."
Kyle Kukkonen won a state title and the Wiz Wyatt award in 2016
|2013||Jack Olsen||Lakeville South|
|2015||Matt Gleason||St. Paul|
|2016||Kyle Kukkonen||Osseo Maple Grove|
|2017||Brody Lamb||Dodge County|
Drew Stewart, Minnetonka
Zam Plante brought the Wiz back to Hermantown, MN in 2018