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2020 Bantam Player of the Year Finalists

By Tony Scott, 03/11/20, 9:00AM CDT


Hermantown duo of Ty Hanson and Zam Plante lead list of top six finalists


North Dakota SOPH Gavin Hain was named top Bantam in 2015

For the past seven years YHH has chosen a Bantam Player of the year. The rules, unlike the Wiz Wyatt award, are simple.

Who was the best player we saw? Who had the biggest impact when they hit the ice?

Each of the eight winners (see list below) has gone on to either play division one hockey or is committed to a school in the near future. Casey Mittelstadt has played two professional seasons since being named in 2014. 

At the completion of our award ceremony later in the Spring, YHH will announce a list of top 50 players, because there are many deserving players who put in the work like Harper Bentz (Moorhead),  Joe Gramer (Moorhead), Luke Margenau (OMG), John Novak (Lakeville South), Sam Rannallo (Rogers), Cade Simonson (Champlin Park), Gavyn Thoreson (Andover) and Matt Vander Vort (Edina).

Finn Brink - Osseo Maple Grove

Player: Finn Brink
Team: Osseo Maple Grove
School: Maple Grove HS
Grade: 9
Parents: Derek and Jen

One of the most dynamic players we've seen over the past two years has been Finn Brink. Brink has a great combination of oil and vinegar. He plays super fast and has just enough of an edge that makes him a challenge to stop every time he hits the ice. "When we play them (OMG), we have to know where Brink is at all times," said one Bantam AA coach.

Ty Hanson - Hermantown

Player: Ty Hanson
Position: Defense
Team: Hermantown
School: Hermantown HS
Grade: 9
Parents: Greg and Brenda

There have been four winners of our award that have held down the blue line (Zuhlsdorf, Frisch, Faber, Burkholder). All have been great athletes with a zest to rush the puck and get into the play. Hanson may be the biggest offensive threat we've seen in our nine seasons at YHH. A master of pushing pace, Hanson must always be accounted for when on the ice. 

Ian Ness - Moorhead

Player: Ian Ness
Position: Forward
Team: Moorhead
School: Moorhead HS
Grade: 9
Parents: Eric and Nicole

It won't take you long to find Ian Ness on the ice for the Spuds. The fastest skater we've seen this year is more than just a jet. Ness is a play-maker who is as good with the puck as he is away from it. One Bantam AA coach said of Ness, "when he was on the ice, our staff took notice..." The Spuds will face Lakeville South Friday at Braemar, it's safe to say Cougar fans will also notice him.

Wyatt Olson - Osseo Maple Grove

Player: Wyatt Olson
Position: Forward
Team: Osseo Maple Grove
School: Maple Grove HS
Grade: 9
Parents: Andrew and Jamie

If our list were a rock band, Wyatt Olson would be the lead guitarist. He'd be constantly jamming his loud and pointed riffs at the crowd for the whole show. A powerful hockey player who sees the ice well, making him difficult to stop. "He's so hard for our team to adjust to...his body positioning and shot overwhelm you," said one Bantam AA coach.

Zam Plante - Hermantown

Player: Zam Plante
Position: Forward
Team: Hermantown
School: Hermantown HS
Grade: 9
Parents: Derek and Kristi

He's talented. He's smart. His love of the game oozes out of every pore in his body.  Zam Plante plays the game like an adult, but with a child-like enthusiasm. "...if you don't have Plante on your list, you're crazy," said one northern Bantam AA coach.

Drew Stewart - Minnetonka

Player: Drew Stewart
Position: Forward
Team: Minnetonka
School: Minnetonka West Middle School
Grade: 8
Parents: Dan and Rachel

There are very few players in Minnesota who can jump to Bantams as an eighth grader and become a Player of the Year candidate. In eight years, we've had three (Ben Brinkman, Jimmy Clark and Charlie Stramel). Drew Stewart is number four. 

The 2019 Wiz Wyatt winner drove teams crazy all year for the Skippers. "He's the best player we saw in District 6 all year...he's fun to watch, hard to stop," said one Bantam AA coach of Stewart. 

Past Winners

2019 winner Max Burkholder - Chaska Chanhassen

Year Player Team College NHL Draft Rights
2013 Ryan Zuhlsdorf Edina Minnesota Tampa Bay
2014 Casey Mittelstadt Eden Prairie Minnesota Buffalo
2015 Gavin Hain Grand Rapids North Dakota Philadelphia
2016 Ethan Frisch Moorhead North Dakota N/A
2017 Jake Braccini Buffalo Minnesota N/A
2018 Kyle Kukkonen Osseo Maple Grove Michigan Tech N/A
2018 Brock Faber Osseo Maple Grove Minnesota N/A
2019 Max Burkholder Chaska Chanhassen Colorado College N/A

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