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U10 Player of the Year Finalists

By Tony Scott, 02/28/13, 5:45AM CST


YHH announces it’s finalists for the Wiz Wyatt Player of the Year Award.

This year YHH plans to announce a player of the year at all levels we cover: U10A, U12A, Squirts, PeeWees and Bantams.  The award is named for Minnesota Hockey Legend Wiz Wyatt who starred for both Minneapolis West High School and Harvard in his playing career and went on to coach youth hockey in both Minneapolis and Edina.  To learn more about Wiz and his background click here. Different from typical player of the year awards, on ice talent and statistics are not the only criteria for this award.  Like it’s namesake, this player will be talented both on the ice, in other sports, in the classroom and will be well respected by their coaches and teammates. The first set of finalists we are proud to announce are the U10A girls.  And what a group of great kids we’ve uncovered, not just on the ice…but in the classroom on the ballfields and in their community as well. The SQA and U10A winners will be announced on Sunday, March 17 at Bloomington Ice Garden at the conclusion of our SQA championship of the YHH Squirtacular presented by DynaMoo (face off 2:00 pm).

Jocelyn Veary, Goalie, Park Cottage Grove Wolfpack

Arguably one of the best goalies her age, Jocelyn is a really fun goalie to watch.  While watching some girls hockey this Winter, one fan from a rival community approached me and said, “you have to see this Veary girl from Cottage Grove play…she’s plays goalie like a pro!” Needless to say, this fan was right.  She had a shutout in the game we watched, facing 25 shots and making two spectacular breakaway stops to give her team a chance to win.

Jocelyn’s favorite players are Allie Morse, former Park High goalie and current Providence Goalie, and Bryce Boreen, current Park High Goalie.  Both of these girls have shown

Jocelyn a passion to compete at a high level and a humbelness of being a true champion, a great team player, and an outstanding goalie.  Jocelyn has set her goals high based on these other players accomplishments.  They include High school Hockey, College Hockey, and even Team USA.  Jocelyn’s current goal is to make the High School team as an 8th grader.  Jocelyn gets great goaltending instruction by working as much as possible with Park Highs goalie coach, Mike Moline.  Her U10 coach said that, “she is a great kid to have on our team…we are lucky to have her in the nets every night.”

Jocelyn is a great student who also plays traveling Soccer in the Summer.  When not competing and getting better she loves to eat pumpkin pie.

Julia Barger, Center, Eagan Wildcats

A fleet of foot skater with great vision and a knack for scoring goals, Julia was an easy choice to be a finalist for the Wizzy.  Accounting for almost half of her team’s goals, Julia is not the type of kid to brag about her exploits.  She’s a humble kid who just loves to play the game.  She’s loves hockey for two simple reasons, it’s faster than any other sport and it’s a great place to hang out with her best friends. Her favorite team is the MN Wild. Her favorite players are Sydney Crosby and Gigi Marvin.  She got a chance to meet Gigi and got the opportunity to wear Gigi’s Olympic Silver Medal around her neck.  This moment was probably why it’s now one of her goals to someday represent her country in the Olympics and play for gold. When speaking to her coach, Dan Woog, he jokingly said of Julia, “we considered changing her number in the middle of the season to confuse the other teams of where she was out there..unfortunately any good coach can spot her on the first shift.”  Woog went onto say that she is a joy to coach and is the type of player that gives full effort every time she hits the ice.

Besides Coach Woog, who played for his Dad, Doug Woog, at the University of Minnesota, Julia is coached by her Dad, Mark, who played at St. Cloud State and Kevin McKinnon who played at the University of North Dakota. A great student, Julia also plays traveling Soccer in the Summer and enjoys eating Popovers with honey butter and Taco Bell Chicken Quesadillas.

Cece Ziegler, Defense, Highland Central Capitals

YHH got it’s first glimpse of CeCe Ziegler in December at the Hastings Tournament.  At that point of the season her team had started the season slow and our expectations for this team were not high. Highland had a few really nice skaters and we were amazed at how well they moved the puck and played unselfishly. There was one skater, number 9 who really stood out.  It was Cece Ziegler.  She played defense, but not the defensive minded type.  She rushed the puck just about every chance she could and on a number of occasions made moves with the puck that would have made Denis Savard blush. One time it’s a backhanded toe drag and the next it’s a spin-a-rama. But don’t be fooled this girl is not a “hot dog” she passes the puck almost as well as she makes moves.  A true joy to watch play.

As the season progressed, Cece and her team found success in just about every tournament they played. Playing in a tough league with #1 Forest Lake and top ten Stillwater really sped up their development as the season went on taking third place in two tournaments this year. Her favorite player is Patrick Kane and her favorite thing about hockey is being with her friends and making “sick moves” on her opponents (see above). The highlight of her season was when her team finally beat Stillwater.

When not playing hockey Cece plays volleyball, softball, and baseball. And when not competing plays the piano, trumpet and participates on her school’s Lego League team.

Bella Weaver, Center, Farmington Tigers

When scanning the the top teams in girls hockey look no further than Farmington, Minnesota.  Both 10 and 12A teams are in the top ten with many top players on their teams.

One huge fan of youth hockey said to me about their 10A team, “they are the most complete team I’ve seen all year, in both girls and boys.” This statement caught my attention enough to discover who are some of these kids?  We didn’t have to look very hard to find Bella Weaver, she’s fast and can play comfortably any where on the ice when given the chance. Known for her great skating skill and shot, YHH noticed that she’s best in tight space because of her great balance and hockey instincts.

When not playing hockey Bella loves to ski, play softball, basketball and soccer. She loves competing in all sports but it’s no secret that hockey is her favorite. When anyone comes to visit her house, her mom said, “she’s got them on the floor playing knee hockey within 10 minutes.” Sound like it’s not luck why she’s winning battles in corners and in tight spaces. If you can win in your living room, a sheet of ice must seem huge to Bella.

Her favorite players are Natalie Darwitz and Kyle Rau. She said Natalie is one of the greatest and most accomplished hockey players of all time; she inspires her to always be her best, and follow her dreams. She thinks Natalie is a great role model and shows great sportsmanship. She said Kyle is amazing because he is always moving his feet and getting into the play. Every time he is on the ice, he makes things happen.

Bella said, “there is no way she could pick a favorite food; she loves to experiment and try new things, but anything on the grill is always nice.” When asked why she loved to play hockey she simply said, ”it’s the best sport there is…I love the adrenaline I feel every time I get on the ice.”

Gabbie Smith, Center, Brainerd Warriors

While scanning the state for the best players it didn’t take a genius to figure out there had to be some talented girls on the Brainerd U10A team.  Heading into the latter part of the season they were undefeated and had a huge goal differential. In late January, YHH caught up to Brained on one of their two visits to the Twin Cities as they took on Edina Green, Stillwater, Forest Lake in one weekend, and then Wayzata later in February. While standing with some Brainerd fans during the Edina game, besides the usual greetings my first words to their fans were, “who’s number 10?”.  She was strong on her skates, could stick handle and was always in on the action. To which they replied, “Gabbie Smith!” As in Tom Smith’s daughter and Sandy Smith’s niece??? The Smith brothers are both Brainerd hockey legends and both coach this team of super stars. In the game we saw, she had two goals in Brainerd’s win over Edina Green at Minnesota Made’s outdoor rink.

A great student, Gabbie also plays soccer for the Brainerd Blast in the Summer at the U11 level. Brainerd Assistant Coach, Chris Robinson told YHH, “Gabbie is an absolute joy to coach. She is a hard worker and leads by example every practice and every shift.” We could tell on the first shift that she was a special player on a special team. Unlike the other finalists, Gabbie’s favorite player is #16 on the Brainerd Boys High School team Cole Smith, her big brother.

When not at the rink or the soccer field Gabbie loves Alfredo Noodles.

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