As part of our preseason coverage, we searched far and wide across the state to come up with great players in certain skill categories. The following five nominees are presented in no particular order. Certainly, it’s just opinion, but we asked one of the top players (Hill-Murray's Zach LaValle) what it takes to make this list.
Hill-Murray senior Zach LaValle
Q: What kind of skills does it take to develop something like seeing the whole ice?
A: You always have to have your head up. I was always taught when going into the corner to know your surroundings. Playing football has helped me with that, because I’m always scanning the field as the quarterback. You just have your eyes on the guys, knowing where they are and what hand they are.
Q: Do you think being a senior and having played so many years has helped? Being calmer and knowing what’s going on?
A: Exactly. I have a lot of experience and I know what it takes. Sometimes in that third period you have to give it that extra effort.
Q: You’re a two-year captain for Hill-Murray. What does that say about you that your teammates recognized you as a leader?
A: It was pretty special for me beause I’d been there for a while. But I’m just out there trying to make myself better and make everyone else around me better at the same time.
Q: Are there any specific drills you work on to help develop your vision?
A: We always do a cycling drill where once you get the puck in the corner, you have your head up right away. There will always be a guy on the strong-side D or the weak-side D and you have to get your head up and find him right way. Coach Lechner always has us doing that one.
Zach LaValle looks for open space against Roseville last season. (Photo by Helen Nelson).
All these skills Q and A, along with lists of the top players at each, are included in this year's edition of the Breakdown/MN Hockey Hub's annual guidebook. Get your copy of the book today!
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