Wednesday night, Feb. 11, the 10 finalists for the 2009 Minnesota Mr. Hockey award were announced, as well as honoring Bloomington Jefferson's Casey O'Connor as the top senior goaltender in the state. Following is a short breakdown on each player, including a preseason comment from each player's coach as given to The Breakdown for our annual hockey preview book.
Dan DeLisle, Totino Grace
DeLisle, a forward and University of Minnesota-Duluth recruit, has led the Eagles all season with 28 goals and 22 assists. He's already a two-time All-Conference selection and is a captain for Totino this winter. His uncle, Joe DeLisle, was a 1988 UMD captain.
"Dan has all the hockey skills necessary to become a top player in high school. He also has the skills and hockey ability to do well in the WCHA at UMD, and even beyond that level. He is a hard worker on and off the ice, a real leader for his teammates and he is committed to his high school team. Dan has been a great player to coach." -- Totino-Grace coach Mark Loahr.
Marshall Everson, Edina
Everson, a forward and Harvard recruit, is known as a true elite-level sniper, but his game is also so much more well-rounded than that. At 6-1/190, Everson has very good size and uses it to his advantage on the ice, netting 26 goals and 24 assists for the Hornets, who have spent the entire season ranked in the top-5 in Class AA. Last year, he was honorable mention All-State.
"I feel like I can finish pretty well and score goals. I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates, they set me up all the time and make my job easy. I try to use my size as best I can, so I'm kind of a power forward/pure scorer." -- Edina's Marshall Everson.
Ben Hanowski, Little Falls
By the end of his senior season, Hanowski should become the leading scorer in the history of high school hockey in Minnesota. The St. Cloud State recruit already holds the career goal-scoring record and is just 13 points shy of Johnny Pohl's career points record. Hanowski was an AP honorable All-State pick last season and has already racked up 50 goals and 46 assists this winter. He's built like a power forward, but has great hands and sees the entire ice.
"He decided his friends were very important to him and that Little Falls hockey was very important to him. And I think he has a great supporting cast, that if it wasn't there, he might ahve changed his mind and went (to the USHL). But it means a lot to our youth hockey program, to see somebody like that. Just the success of our program." -- Little Falls coach Tony Couture.
Tyler Lapic, New Prague
Lapic, a forward and University of Wisconsin recruit, has powered New Prague's top line with 19 goals and 34 assists on the season. Already a two-time All-Missota pick, he's also been chosen for the USA Hockey National 15, 16 and 17 Festivals during his career. Along with fellow senior first-liner Schyler Adams, Lapic has been called a "rink rat" by his coach, Chris Lonke, who named them both captains this winter.
"They're the two best players I have ever coached on the high school level. They're both really competitive and hard working. Bot those kids want it. I love coaching kids like that." -- New Prague coach Chris Lonke told the Rochester Post-Bulletin.
Nick Leddy, Eden Prairie
Leddy, a top defenseman and University of Minnesota recruit, has led the Eagles blueliners with 8 goals and 24 assists. He's made great strides in his overall game over the past few years and now features a strong defensive game and plenty of offensive talent. He's not afraid to join the rush and has good offensive instincts. Leddy was also named AP honorable mention All-State last year and played on the USA Hockey U18 select team.
"He's extremely gifted with the puck and he can break down teams all by himself. But he's also very unselfish. He's dynamic and very responsible defensively, even with his offensive ability." -- Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith.
Anders Lee, Edina
Lee, an offensive force and Notre Dame recruit, is a high-scoring rugged forward for the Hornets' top line that includes fellow Mr. Hockey finalist Marshall Everson. He's posted 19 goals and 30 assists this winter as a big (6-2/200) and strong forward who is nearly impossible to push off the puck in the corners. But it's his combination of size and good hands that make him an all-around top player. Lee was also the state's Gatorade football player of the year in the fall as a dual threat quarterback for the Hornets.
Danny Mattson, Holy Angels
Mattson, a forward and University of North Dakota recruit, is one of the elite offensive players in the state. He's very fast and nearly impossible to stop one-on-one, despite standing just 5-9/165. But he isn't just a goal-scorer. Mattson is a very unselfish player who involves his teammates at all times. Last year, he earned AP honorable mention All-State honors.
"We've got a great group of guys and the young guys really bond with the older guys. This is the best team I've been a part of. Me and Connor (Reilly), my left wing, have great connections and I we find each other everywhere." -- Holy Angels' Danny Mattson.
Zach Palmquist, South St. Paul
Palmquist, a defenseman and recent Minnesota State University-Mankato recruit, is another offensive-minded defenseman who leads his team with 13 goals and 20 assists. He's already earned All-Conference mention twice and was AP honorable mention All-State last season.
"Zach is an extremely skilled defenseman who makes the game look so easy. His strengths are his skating and his vision. He is a north-south defenseman who moves the puck quickly up ice with his skating and ability to see the ice." -- South St. Paul coach Jeff Lagoo.
Tyler Pilick, Centennial
Pitlick, also a Minnesota State University-Mankato recruit and part of the Cougars' potent top line with Willie Hess and Jordan Lovick, has tallied 26 goals and 26 assists this winter. He's put on weight and now features a well-rounded game that will translate well to the Mavericks' style of play.
"Great hands and creativity. Outstanding goal scorere and set-up guy. Should be one of the top players in the state." -- Centennial coach Erik Aus.
Max Tardy, Duluth East
Tardy, one of the best two-way forwards in the state and a University of Minnesota-Duluth recruit, leads the Greyhounds with 24 goals and 18 assists. He's the key to much of East's offensive attack, playing on the first line and the power play, but he also recognizes his defensive responsibilities for coach Mike Randolph's club, which is one of the stingiest in the state at allowing goals.
"We new Tardy was a quality player. He put on a clinic with his poise, stick handling and scoring ability." -- Mayo coach Lorne Grosso told the Rochester Post-Bulletin after Tardy had four goals against his team in late January.
Top goalie: Casey O'Connor, Bloomington Jefferson
O'Connor is in his first year on the Jaguars varsity and has made his initial -- and only -- season a great one. Until losing to Eden Prairie last week, Jefferson had won 22 straight games, many with O'Connor in nets. He's played in 20 games and posted a 19-1-0 record with a 1.38 GAA and .923 save %. His 19 victories are third in the state and goals against is tied for second best. O'Connor recently did a Q and A with the Star-Tribune's Jim Paulsen. For the transcript, click here.
The Mr. Hockey Awards Banquet will be held at the River Centre St. Paul at 11 a.m. on March 15.
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