The Minnesota girl’s high school hockey season officially began last night.
To preview some of the state of Minnesota’s top players, we annually put together a list of some of the candidates for the Ms. Hockey Award, given to the state’s top senior women’s hockey player.
The past two years that we’ve done this, there has been a very clear favorite heading into the season, both of whom eventually went on to win the award. But in both cases, there was a legitimate challenger that made the race feel at least a little close. Two years ago, it was Grace Bowlby, whose poise and flair on the blue line made a compelling counterpoint to Grace Zumwinkle’s hammering approach to forward. Last year, Gabbie Hughes’ run through the best teams the state had to offer caused some to at least reconsider what felt like the foregone conclusion of Taylor Heise winning.
This year, there is once again a clear favorite. But then....
Madeline Wethington of Blake is going to win this award. She’s more than deserving, and in the grand scheme, could go down as one of the better players to win this award ever. But part of the reason you can almost write this down in ink is that it’s really difficult to name anyone that could potentially challenge Wethington. Rather than someone stepping up in the fall Elite League to potentially present a challenge, similar to what Hughes did last fall, it was Wethington that seemed to take her game to another level and separate herself even farther from the pack.
For a few years now, people have been labeling this class as being a down year talent-wise. And to a certain extent, that is correct. There’s very little in terms of the hyperelite national team-level talent you see in most years. But it’s also worth noting that there’s still some pretty good depth in this class. While I think it’s difficult to pick the top five players in this class, or even pick the top two players in this class, it was extremely easy to come up with 20 players one could make a very easy argument for belonging as a finalist for this award.
So there might not be much drama this year. But once again, there are a number of really talented hockey players. Here’s a look at some of the top candidates for Ms. Hockey this year.
- Madeline Wethington, Defenseman, Blake School(Committed to the University of Minnesota)
It’s fair to say that Wethington comes into this season as literally the most decorated player in high school hockey history. She is one of only four members of the elite “Triple Gold” club as a three-time winner of the IIHF World U18 championships. And the other three members—Cayla Barnes, Taylor Heise, and Gracie Ostertag—all played college hockey after their final season of U18 eligibility.
Wethington also comes from Minnesota hockey royalty. Her mother, Kerry Brodt Wethington was an early pioneer in women’s hockey in the state of Minnesota and went on to become the first head coach of the St. Cloud State women’s ice hockey team. Her grandfather founded the Minnesota Whitecaps. Her aunt, Winny Brodt-Brown founded Os Hockey, which has trained nearly every D-1 women’s hockey player in the Twin Cities since its’ inception in 2004. Two summers ago, the Herb Brooks Foundations inducted that entire side of her family into the Youth Hockey Hall of Fame.
Wethington manages to live up to that daunting legacy with her play on the ice. She’s a strong skater with excellent agility that is confident with the puck on her stick. Her booming slap shot makes her an offensive force that can take over the game on both ends of the ice. If there’s a fault to her game, it’s sometimes trying to do everything herself, but her fierce competitiveness makes her a player you want on the ice in big moments.
2. Kaitlyn Kotlowski, Defenseman, Warroad High School(Committed to Wisconsin)
Originally from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Kotlowski transferred to Warroad in high school and has been the cornerstone of the Warroad blue line. She is a very tall defenseman and uses that size effectively on the defensive end, and has a big slap shot from the point.
3. Mannon McMahon, Forward, Maple Grove High School(Committed to Minnesota Duluth)
McMahon is one of the most fluid, natural skaters in the state. Over the course of her high school career, she has worked to become a more well-rounded, complete offensive player, but her game is always going to be focused on her incredible skating.
4. Sydney Shearen, Forward, White Bear Lake High School(Committed to Minnesota)
Shearen is an alum of last year’s World U18 gold medalists, and is eligible to return to the team again this year for a potential fifth consecutive gold medal. Shearen’s physical attributes don’t necessarily stand out, but she’s a smart, crafty player with excellent hockey sense that is often a sneaky effective forward.
5. Ramsey Parent, Forward, Blaine High School(Committed to Ohio State)
Parent has been a fixture at the top of Blaine’s scoring list since she was a freshman(and likely would been as an 8th grader too, had Anoka-Hennepin school district rules not kept her off the varsity hockey team). She is a feisty, aggressive player that plays bigger than her size would indicate, which makes her a consistent offensive threat, and effective on both ends of the ice.
6. Annie Kuehl, Forward, Edina High School(Committed to Princeton)
Kuehl has often been overshadowed by the embarrassment of riches on Edina’s roster over her high school career, but as a senior, she’ll likely get her turn to carry what should be another very deep, talented, Hornet squad. Kuehl is arguably the smoothest puckhandler in the state, capable of creating offense for herself and teammates out of difficult situations.
7. Mallory Uihlein, Defenseman, Edina High School(Committed to Penn State)
Uihlein is a quarterback from the blue line for Edina. She has tremendous poise and passing ability that allows her to move the puck effectively through all three zones, and makes her especially effective on the offensive end.
8. Haylee Blinkhorn, Forward, Hill-Murray School(Committed to Boston University)
This was a tough call because Blinkhorn’s teammate, Katie Kaufman(Merrimack) just as easily could slot in here. Both are speedy, hard-working wingers that are going to carry Hill-Murray’s offense this year.
9. Emily Wisnewski, Defenseman, Wayzata High School(Committed to Clarkson)
Wisnewski is a big, physical presence on the blue line. She’s not as offensively gifted as some of the other top defensemen in the state, but makes up for that by being rock solid defensively. She has logged a ton of ice time for Wayzata over her career, and will be a near-permanent fixture on the ice for the Trojans again this year.
10. Maddie Peterson, Princeton High School(Committed to RPI)
Peterson isn’t likely to draw much attention playing for Princeton, which is outside of the metro area and not a traditional power, but she was consistently impressive in the fall Elite League. An excellent skater with decent hands, she scored 30 goals last season, and could improve on that this year.
Abby Delarosa, D, White Bear Lake(Bemidji State)
Lyndsey Howard, D, Burnsville(Minnesota State)
Kailey Langefels, D, Minnetonka(Ohio State)
Emily King, F, Cretin-Derham Hall(RPI)
Addi Scribner, D, Eastridge(Ohio State)
CC Bowlby, F, Edina(Dartmouth)
Sadie Peart, F, Grand Rapids/Greenway(Quinnipiac)
Grace Vojta, D, Blake(Yale)
Kate Boland, D, Northfield(Bemidji State)
Kelsey King, F, Elk River(Minnesota State)
Carly Beniek, F, Breck(Holy Cross)