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Wiz Wyatt PeeWee POTY Finalists Announced

By Tony Scott, 03/06/15, 1:00PM CST


Five Great Players, Five Great Kids

Jefferson's Grayson Hight and the Jaguars are flying high after qualifying for State

2015 Wiz Wyatt Award - PeeWee Finalists

Wiz Wyatt, circa 1973. Photo Courtesy Harvard University

Each year YHH watches hundreds of games, hosts tournaments all over the state, and collects some great information on thousands of players. There are so many great stories of so many great kids. At the PeeWee level we saw some great AA and A action as well as some epic B showdowns in District 3, 6, 8 and 12 plus some great games in the PWB East Region. 

Two years ago, we began handing out the Wiz Wyatt Player of the Year Award to top Squirt and PeeWee players. Our criteria for the award is pretty simple.

  • The player must be an outstanding player.
  • The player must be a great student and leader.
  • The player must be a multi-sport athlete.

Wiz Wyatt was a highly decorated three sport star at Minneapolis West in the early 1970's. After graduating from West, he went on to Harvard and played for the Crimson for his collegiate career. Post graduation, Wiz coached youth hockey in Minneapolis and Edina both as a non-parent and parent volunteer. He currently lives in Edina with his wife Jane and is the father of four adult children Susan, Mary, Michael, and Jessie.

St. Paul's Matthew Gleason with one of 3 Goals in the Founder's Cup Title against Orono

Here are the five finalists, alphabetically:

Matthew Gleason - St. Paul Capitals

Matthew Gleason also stars on the baseball diamond and soccer field in St. Paul

We knew that Matthew Gleason was a great hockey player last season when he was the only first year PeeWee to crack our top 50 list. He made the list primarily on his great play on a great team that won the state tournament. He was invited to play with the other top PeeWees in Minnesota last Fall in the YHH PeeWee Challenge. This is where we began to hear the whispers, "whoever that kid with the red breezers is, he is awesome." Gleason lead the tournament in scoring by a large margin and was selected the MVP. 

His second year of PeeWees got off on the wrong foot when he broke his ankle playing in a Co-Ed soccer game costing him 7 weeks of his season. From the minute he hit the ice he has been unstoppable, scoring over 100 Goals and adding almost as many Assists. 

While not playing, Matthew is an honor student at Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul. He also plays Soccer and Baseball. He also considers himself an avid fisherman during the Summer months at his cabin.

Jefferson's Grayson Hight scores for the Jags

Grayson Hight - Bloomington Jefferson

Grayson Hight finds a hole while playing Bloomington football.

The last time Bloomington Jefferson qualified for the State PeeWee A Tournament it was 2001. That team was loaded with future Division I and NHL stars like Erik Johnson and Peter Mueller and they won the state title. Matt Labombard played on that team and is now a coach for this year's Jefferson team who has a few stars of their own.

One of those stars, Grayson Hight fits the Wiz Wyatt criteria to a T. He is a great two way player with lightning speed and a great scoring touch. "We always matched Grayson up with the other team's best player because we knew he had the speed and strength," said Coach LaBombard. One District Coach said of Hight, "he is tough to of those guys that you hate to coach against." 

Off the ice, Hight is a star Football and Soccer player in the off-season and he is a straight A student at Olson Middle school on the west side of Bloomington. At Olson he excels in Math and Drawing...he also plays Trombone in the OMS band.

When researching players for this award, people in the area light up when they are asked about Grayson off the ice. Coach LaBombard said of him, "as good of a player as Grayson is on the ice, he is even better off. He is exactly the type of person you want leading your team."

Christian Miller scoring for the Raiders in the Founder's Cup

Christian Miller - Greenway Raiders

Christian Miller on the mound last Summer.

We first saw Christian Miller last May playing for the '01 American Stars AAA team in Minnetonka. Christian was big, skilled and had a calculated mean streak. When told he would be a PeeWee this season for Greenway, we soon began to do the math on how good the Raiders team could be. With returners Ben Troumbley, Mitchell Vekich and Cameron Lantz, there was a lot of optimism for Greenway this year. The Raiders won the District 12 title this year and came one game away from qualifying for state last weekend in Alexandria. 

At this year's Founder's Cup, Miller and the Raiders had a great tournament losing only to Champion St. Paul and AA Apple Valley in the Grey Bracket title Game. Playing Defense, Miller finished the tournament with 7 Goals and 3 Assists. 

Miller, the son of 1987 Mr. Hockey Kris Miller, brings more to the table than just great hockey ability. In his third third year of PeeWees and his second as Captain, Miller was almost another coach in the locker room and on the bench. Coach Derek Sundquist said of Miller, "Christian has such a great attitude that it wore off on the other players.

Miler taking one to the house in football.

This year was the best group of kids I've coached both on the ice and off and Christian was a big reason for that." He went on to say, "Christian is a one of a kind kid...he's the kind of player that could take over a game both physically and mentally...physically is pretty obvious, just watch one shift. Mentally is what sets him apart. Whenever our team would get down, he was always there to lift up his team and so many times that was the difference in us winning and not losing."

When not mastering his game at Hodgins-Berardo Arena in Coleraine, Christian plays Quarterback on the football team and is a left handed hitting threat on the baseball team. As a seventh grader, he is on the A Honor Roll with a 3.81 GPA. Mark Sheppard, a teacher and coach in the Greenway School System says of Miller, "Christian has performed outstanding in my classes not only from the academic side, but also as a top notch citizen and role model to the rest of the students in class. As a high school coach myself for 25 years, this is the type of student-athlete I always love having on my teams."

Will Mortenson helped lead MPLS to State

Will Mortenson - Minneapolis Storm

Will Mortenson last Summer in Cooperstown, NY

At an early age, Will Mortenson knew he wanted to be a hockey player. His parents didn't know, but thankfully a wise neighbor could tell he would someday be a star. Trina Young, Mortenson's neighbor, saw young Will continuously slapping a tennis ball with a stick from a tree. She eventually imparted him with a hand me down plastic stick and his career began. Enter a second important influence, Troy Svenddal, another friend from the neighborhood who invited Will to skate with his son Will at the park. 

This year, these two Wills and a cast of their buddies with crazy skill and crazy names (Seamus, Dante, Mackie, Kiron, Axel and Lachen to name a few) have literally taken Minnesota hockey by storm. Heading into next week's state tournament, the Storm are the number one team in the state and the favorite to win.

Mortenson and his linemates Gavin Best and Joe Miller have been nearly unstoppable when they hit the ice. Miller, the expressive center, flanked by two hard working rangy wingers have made them a fun line to watch all season. This past weekend, one South Region coach said of Mortenson, "that number 11 is the complete package...he's got speed and hands...where can I get three just like that?"

One Minneapolis coach said of Mortenson, "Will reminds me of Jack Hillen (Minnesota born player now with the Carolina Hurricanes). He skates so easily with the puck and his head up that his decisions on the ice make him a constant threat."

Will Mortenson last Summer on the pitch.

Choosing one great hockey player from this team was difficult, choosing one great kid was easy. Mortenson is a straight A student at Lake Country School in South Minneapolis. He is a standout Soccer player and Baseball player during the Summer. If there is a sport, Will wants to play it. 

Besides being very athletic and competitive, what makes our choice of Will so easy is what he brings to the table off the field. Will is a great leader in the locker room when he speaks, but mostly in what he does. Coach Connor Clark said of Mortenson, "Will is a rare kid, he has so many great qualities that have made him so much fun to coach the past two seasons.  I can't think of a better example than Will of what kids in Minneapolis should strive to be." 

St. Cloud's Nathan Warner celebrating with Ethan Cumming this season.

Nate Warner - St. Cloud

Nate Warner with his game face

When YHH learned that Nate Warner would be playing his third season of PeeWees and would not be playing Bantams for St. Cloud this season, we knew that the Huskies would be a threat to win a lot of games. This past Fall, they lost their first game in the Big Pumpkin to Andover, but then won their next three games. Warner had 9 goals in the four game tournament in Moorhead and was named to the All Tournament team. 

As the season progressed, Warner's team would challenge the top teams in Minnesota but never gain the top five in the YHH Rankings. Last weekend, they were one of a few teams to beat Number 1 rated Minneapolis this season. Warner scored on Penalty Shot to tie the score and was on the ice when teammate Blake Keller got the GWG to lift the Huskies to state as the number seed from the South Region. That game was a microcosm of who Nate was this year. Nate battled, Nate scored and when the game was on the line he didn't care who got the glory as long as his team won. After Keller scored, Nate was the first kid to mob Keller and begin the celebration. 

Being explosive and a talented passer has helped him attract the best defenders every shift. Despite the added pressure, at times times it seems the game is going very slow for the Husky Team Captain. He sees the ice really well and works well with his teammates. This is definitely not an over-skilled player who hogs the puck. Coach MIke Hiltner said of Warner after their Regional title, "Nate is a kid with a bright future!"

In the locker room, Nate and the other Captains help the coaches keep the team focused prior to games and practices. Coach Hiltner said of Nate, "he definitely leads vocally off the rink but by example on the ice." Outside of the rink, Warner loves baseball and golf. He plays third base and outfield on the St. Cloud team that plays in the Gopher State League. He is a top seventh grader academically at Sartell Middle School where he he excels in Math and Science.


All Player of the Year Announcements will be done in April. Stay tuned to YHH for a date and time.

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