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Ziegler and Slukynsky win Wiz Wyatt Player of the Year Award

By Tony Scott, 03/24/13, 3:45AM CDT


Girls Finalists: Bella Weaver (Farmington), Cece Ziegler (Highland Central), Jocelyn Veary (Park Cottage Grove), and Julia Barger (Eagan). Not Pictured: Gabbie Smith (Brainerd).

When we set out to name a YHH Player of the Year Award, it was not our goal to find the best hockey player. It was our goal to find a kid that was a great athlete and a great student and leader.  It was to find someone who would represent what’s great about Minnesota Hockey.  A community based hockey program geared toward developing well rounded kids who may some day play high school, college or professional hockey.

We also thought it would be fitting to name the award for someone who matched these principles – great athlete, great student, and and well respected leader.  My youth hockey coach, Wiz Wyatt, was the perfect fit to be named for this award.  Wiz was a great athlete (football, hockey and baseball), a great student (went to Harvard), and was very well respected (I can vouch for that).

On Sunday, March 17, YHH announced it’s first two winners at the U10 and Squirt level.  Choosing a winner was like choosing only one piece of candy at a candy store.  So many great choices.  Choosing five finalists was very hard, choosing a winner was even harder.

Cece Ziegler, Highand Central

The U10 winner is Cece Ziegler from Highland Central.  A wonderful player with arguably the most physical talent of any kid in.

Minnesota, at any age.  Watching Cece play is a treat…coaching a game against her is NOT.  At any given time she can score.  Scoring was not her greatest value to her team, it was defending.  Cece played Defense for her team and saved or prevented as many goals as she created. We watched Cece play four times this year and in each game she made plays that pro players still haven’t perfected.  Saucer passes, top shelf shots, back hand toe drags, and spin-a-ramas are in Cece’s regular routine. Early in the season, I asked her coach why a player of this caliber doesn’t play boys hockey, to which he said, “she use to, but she thought the boys were gross…”

A well rounded kid who plays just about every sport offered, including baseball with those “gross” boys and she participates on her school’s Lego Team, the Tribots. Her Lego team finished 50th this season out of 600 teams at the state Lego meet. As for her school work, it is suffice to say that Cece is smarter than a fifth grader.  Getting high marks in all of her course work, Cece is taking seventh grade math at school. Cece told YHH that her favorite thing about playing hockey is making “sick” moves on her opponents. I’m thinking that her moves have made a few opposing players sick, too.

YHH couldn’t be prouder to have Cece as our player of the year.

Other Girls considered for this award: Brieja Parent (Forest Lake), Courtney Peterson (Forest Lake), Gabbie Best (Forest Lake), Addy Hackley (Wayzata), Kaitlyn MacBean (Wayzata), Lindsey Booth (Brainerd), Sydney Langseth (Eden Prairie), Alex Pearson (Eden Prairie), Tella Jungels (Edina Green), Sophia Doll (Edina White), Lauren Einen (Stillwater), Lexi Ligday (Stillwater), Gabbie Maddigan (Inver Grove Heights), Josie Bothun (White Bear Lake), Bridgette McGuire (Minneapolis), Kiera Ryan (Highland Central), Carissa Mudrak (Duluth) and Mya Kunst (Duluth).

Grant Slukynsky, Warroad

The Squirt Player of the Year is Grant Slukynsky from Warroad. Grant scored 178 goals this season for Warroad and lead his team to the Consolation Championship at the Fargo International (that’s a 5-1 record vs. high end teams) while notching 20 goals and 14 assists.  A great skater with a “wicked” shot, Slukynsky is a constant threat to score.  Grant is not just a hockey player.  He epitomizes what our award stands for.  He is a great student, and a member of the band at school.  Unlike most top players in Minnesota, Grant does not play organized hockey once his season is complete.  He instead focuses on playing golf, baseball, football and probably more important to a kid from Warroad; fishing and hunting.

I met Grant for the first time last Sunday, he and his parents drove six hours to Bloomington for the awards ceremony, upon arrival Grant was in full clad Warroad Youth Hockey red attire (Editor’s Note: only the high school players wear the Warroad Black and Gold).  Like the other POTY candidates, Grant was very shy and maybe a little nervous to be in the spotlight. One of the highlights of the award ceremony for me was to catch a glimpse of his proud mom,Jenny, tearing up as Grant was getting his picture taken with Wiz Wyatt and the POTY trophy. The look in her eyes suggested to me that he has worked very hard on his game shooting thousands of pucks in anticipation of each season.

YHH can hardly wait to see Grant and his friends move onto the PeeWee level and take on a more statewide schedule next year (Warroad only played a handful of Metro teams all year)…can’t say the same for the goalies and opposing coaches. Congratulations to all the finalists at the Squirt level…each player was very deserving of this award.

Other players considered for the award: Luke Levandowski (Rosemount), Mason Campbell (Rosemount), Keaton Kranz (Rosemount), AJ Anello (Rosemount), Broten Sabo (Rosemount), Connor Kelley (OMG), Spencer Dahlquist (OMG), Mackie Zabinski (Minneapolis), Ben Dexheimer (Edina), Lily Deslienedas (Edina), Will Soderling (Edina), Ramsey Bell (Edina), John Tucker (Edina), Emmett Wurst (Edina), Gunnar Thoreson (Andover), Wyatt Kaiser (Andover), Own Gallatin (Forest Lake), Ethan Cumming (St. Cloud), Owen Neuharth (Prior Lake), Matt Beaty (Prior Lake), Carson Stokes (Prior Lake), Jack Reimann (Blaine), Johnny Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie), Grayson Hight (Jefferson), Henry Eischen (Hastings), Billy Rose (White Bear Lake), Sam Newpower (White Bear Lake), Joey Malugani (Rochester), Carter Johnson (Moorhead), Caden Triggs (Moorhead), Grant Kwapich (Mahtomedi), Noah Tussey (Stillwater), Lucas Jorgenson (Orono), Blake Biondi (Hermantown), Jack Ferry (Elk River), William Magnuson (Chaska/Chanhassen), Owen Meaker (Warroad), Westin Andres (Brainerd), and Matthew Gleason (Highland Central).

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