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2024 Bantam Player of the Year Finalists

By YHH Staff, 03/14/24, 3:15PM CDT


Four forwards, a defenseman, and a goaltender from Moorhead to Minnetonka make up this year's list of finalists.

Wyatt Cullen - Moorhead

There may not be a more dynamic player in Minnesota with the puck on his stick than Cullen. 

Cullen’s hands and hockey sense led to an MVP performance during November’s Battle for the Blue Ox, where he finished second in scoring (behind another Bantam Player of the Year finalist) with six goals and 14 points in four games for the tourney champion Spuds. 

In 33 games tracked by GameSheet this season, Cullen has 39 goals and 97 points. During Moorhead’s Region run, Cullen scored four goals and added eight assists in just three games.

Cullen is one of two Bantam POTY finalists invited to try out for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program’s Under-17 team.  

Wyatt Cullen, Moorhead BAA

Hudson Ferrie - Moorhead

During YHH’s due diligence before narrowing our list of Bantam Player of the Year finalists, Ferrie’s name was inescapable. Opposing coaches, unprompted, mentioned him as a critical piece of the high-powered Spuds, crushing the narrative that a talented team masks a goaltender’s alleged shortcomings. 

Ferrie is an athlete in every sense of the word, and his speed in returning to his set position after making a sprawling save is downright startling. During Region play, Ferrie stopped 34 of 37 shots, and his performance during the State Tournament will play a key role in how the Spuds finish.  

Hudson Ferrie, Moorhead BAA

Sammy Nelson - Osseo Maple Grove

The third Nelson to come through the Osseo-Maple Grove youth association after older brothers Henry and Danny, both now standouts at Notre Dame, Sammy is the product of a highly competitive - and talented - household. 

That competitiveness is an underrated part of Nelson’s game, sometimes lost in the shuffle between his lethal shot and game-breaking speed. Nelson led the Leafbirds to (another) state tournament appearance with five goals and nine points during four games of West Region play.

Like Cullen, Nelson will audition for the NTDP U17 team this spring. 

Sammy Nelson, Osseo Maple Grove BAA

Connor Schubert - Rosemount

The signs were there early that Schubert would be in line for a special season. 

After recording 28 goals and 49 points during his first season with the Rosmeount Bantam AA’s according to Elite Prospects, Schubert lit the Bantam Elite League on fire, tying for the league’s Major Division scoring lead with six goals and 16 points. Schubert’s play was instrumental in his Rangers team taking home top honors for the BEL Major season. 

Schubert hasn’t slowed down during association play, leading the Battle for the Blue Ox in scoring with nine goals and 15 points, then tying for the Region scoring lead with seven goals and 13 points in four games. Schubert’s Irish will face Moorhead in the opening round of this weekend’s Bantam AA State Tournament in Grand Rapids.

Connor Schubert, Rosemount BAA

Finn Spehar - Minnetonka

Like Wild Bill Hickock, John Wesley Hardin, and Wyatt Earp, Spehar has arguably the fastest shot in the West (metro). 

Spehar is a cerebral hockey player, and his shot release is like something out of a John Wayne film - a subtle, lightning-quick flash before the puck rockets into the back of an opponent’s net.

Spehar ranked among the leading scorers in virtually every tournament his Skippers played in, totaling seven points in both the Spirit of Duluth and Moose Goheen tournaments, plus a four-goal, nine-point performance during the Edina Invitational. 

Spehar also led Minnetonka in goals with six in five Region games before the Skippers were edged out by Wayzata in a 2-1 loss.  

Finn Spehar, Minnetonka BAA

Becker Wenkus - Edina

It’s rare that a defenseman makes such an impact on opponents in a Bantam season, but Wenkus was another player whose name kept popping up during the recon for this year’s award. 

On the surface, Wenkus’s reach and responsibility in the defensive zone stand out, as do his physicality and confidence on the ice. To these intangibles, Wenkus adds a good shot from the point and a sense for passing that’s evident in his six assists during Edina’s appearance in the Moose Goheen tournament.

As the Hornets rolled through Region play to the Bantam AA State Tournament, Wenkus recorded two goals and four points in three games. 

Becker Wenkus, Edina BAA

Past Winners

2014 Player of the Year - Casey Mittlestadt

Year Player Team College Commitment
2023 AJ Francisco Hermantown Undecided
2022 Sam Laurila Moorhead North Dakota
2021 Teddy Townsend Eden Prairie Minnesota
2020 Zam Plante Hermantown Minnesota Duluth
2019 Max Burkholder Chaska Chanhassen Colorado College
2018 Kyle Kukkonen Osseo Maple Grove Michigan Tech
2018 Brock Faber Osseo Maple Grove Minnesota
2017 Jake Braccini Buffalo St. Thomas
2016 Ethan Frisch Moorhead North Dakota
2015 Gavin Hain Grand Rapids North Dakota
2014 Casey Mittelstadt Eden Prairie Minnesota
2013 Ryan Zuhlsdorf Edina Minnesota

2018 Co-Players of the Year Kyle Kukkonen (L) & Brock Faber (R)

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