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BHS: 2021 Player of the Year Finalists

By YHH Staff, 03/10/21, 12:45PM CST


Youth Hockey Hub is proud to present the four seniors and one sophomore to make this year's list.

A high five for these five

Selecting the finalists for any end-of-season award is a collaborative effort - sometimes to the process's detriment. 

When so many voices reach so many volumes, the true meaning of a given award or list of award candidates can get lost in a cacophony of shouting or furiously typed text messages. Truth be told, sometimes the awards process is more exhausting than the four-day sprint of the high school state tournaments. 

This season, the choir of voices became clearer, more focused, and more relied upon than any other year. With COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of games teams could play, plus hampering travel for almost everyone, it became impossible for all concerned parties to get a single eyeball on individual players, much less two.

Thank you to the savvy individuals who provided insight on specific players, challenged assumptions, and offered well-thought-out opinions on players and playing environments, that led to a thoroughly researched and vetted list. 

Platitudes aside, the Youth Hockey Hub is proud to present the five finalists for the Boys High School Hockey Player of the Year. 

*All team records and player stats are current as of March 8, 2021  

Jackson Hallum

Player: Jackson Hallum   
Team: St. Thomas Academy 
Year: Senior
College commitment: Michigan  

It’s not often a high school player that hears his name called during the summer’s NHL Entry Draft returns to the prep ranks. 

Jackson Hallum was selected in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft by the Vegas Golden Knights, but opted to play out his final season at St. Thomas Academy, during which he’s totaled 15 goals and 37 points for the Cadets. Hallum led the Cadets to a surprise appearance in the Class 2A State Tournament semifinals, in which they fell to eventual state champion Hill-Murray in overtime. The Cadets upset top-seeded Andover in the quarterfinal round. 

Hallum has recorded 43 goals and 105 total points in his career, and is committed to Michigan. Hallum’s speed and explosiveness should fit in nicely with the Fun ’n’ Gun style the Wolverines employ. Click here to learn more about Hallum's decision to play for the Wolverines. 

Jackson Hallum, St. Thomas Academy

Kyle Kukkonen

Player: Kyle Kukkonen  
Team: Maple Grove
Year: Senior 
College commitment: Michigan Tech

A do-it-all forward who has been a winner at every level, Kukkonen has bounced back from an injury that kept him out for all but seven games last season to become one of the state’s leading scorers. 

Kukkonen has 24 goals and 56 points during the 2021 campaign, bringing his career totals to 54 goals and 127 points. Had Kukkonen not missed almost all of last season, his career mark would be closer to 200. The Michigan Tech commit was averaging 2.57 points-per-game before his injury. Over the course of Maple Grove’s 31 games, including section playoffs and an appearance in the Class 2A State Tournament’s consolation finals, Kukkonen would have totaled just under 80 points at his pre-injury rate. 

Kukkonen won state championships as a Peewee and Bantam at the AA level with Osseo-Maple Grove, skated at the USA Hockey Select 16 and 17 national camps, and spent nine games in the North American Hockey League this season before the high school start. During his time in the NAHL, he scored six goals and adding five assists for the Minot Minotauros.

Kyle Kukkonen, Maple Grove

Luke Mittelstadt

Player: Luke Mittelstadt 
Team: Eden Prairie
Year: Senior
College commitment: Minnesota

The third and final Mittelstadt to pass through the Eden Prairie program, Luke is the lone defender of the trio of brothers that includes 2016 first-round NHL Draft selection Casey and current USHL forward and Minnesota commit John. Luke is also committed to Minnesota.

This season, Mittelstadt has six goals and 20 points, giving him career totals of 16 goals and 87 points as of this list’s publication date. He has spent the last two fall season skating in the ultra-competitive Upper Midwest High School Elite League, and was selected by the Madison Capitols as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 USHL Phase I Draft.

According to NHL Central Scouting, Mittelstadt is the highest-rated player on this list, tabbed a ‘B’ prospect, indicating a possible second or third-round selection. 

Luke Mittelstadt, Eden Prairie (photo from 2019-2020 season)

Jack Peart

Player: Jack Peart
Team: Grand Rapids
Year: Senior
College commitment: St. Cloud State

The Grand Rapids product has been a model defenseman since he became a varsity regular for the Thunderhawks as a sophomore, and should be a frontrunner for the Reed Larson Award, annually given to the state’s top defenseman. 

Peart has 31 career goals and 82 points in three varsity seasons, which are impressive numbers for a defenseman. The two-time Grand Rapids captain is a ‘C’ prospect according to NHL Central Scouting, meaning he could possibly be picked as high as the fourth round.

The St. Cloud State commit leads the 13-1 Thunderhawks with 10 goals and 29 points so far this season. 

Jack Peart, Grand Rapids (photo from 2019-2020 season)

Zam Plante

Player: Zam Plante 
Team: Hermantown
Year: Sophomore
College commitment: Uncommitted

The lone underclassman on a list of seniors, Plante has wasted no time adjusting to high school hockey after a decorated youth career. 

The crafty, skilled forward leads the state in scoring with 28 goals and 58 points, an average of 3.62 points-per-game. While some cynics may point to the lighter-than-usual schedule Hermantown has played this season due to COVID-19 restrictions, Plante proved himself this fall during UMHSEL play. In his first real action against prep-aged players from across the country, Plante recorded 12 goals and 29 points. 

Plante is a member of a wildly talented Hermantown sophomore class, and was named the Youth Hockey Hub Bantam Player of the Year last season. 

Zam Plante, Hermantown (photo from 2019-2020 season)

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