Roseau's Max Strand (10) was named Mr. Hockey in Minnesota on Sunday night. (Drew Herron, Sports Engine)
Roseau senior forward Max Strand departed Sunday afternoon from the St. Paul RiverCentre with the tokens bestowed on a Mr. Hockey Award winner: a plaque and an engraved glass trophy in his hands and a personalized Minnesota Wild jersey on his back.
On his chin, he wore a symbol of the post high-school grind.
“I got hit with a puck last night,” said Strand, who was playing in his fifth game this season with the St. Cloud Norsemen of the North American Hockey League.
Only eye shields are required in the NAHL, which is how Strand ended up with seven stitches. He finished the game with a goal and an assist. Though if his dream came true, Strand would have been leading Roseau through the Class 2A state tournament.
The Rams were upset in the Section 8 semifinals, but Strand cemented his legacy by winning the 38th annual Mr. Hockey Award. He is the first winner from Roseau since defenseman Aaron Ness in 2008.
Strand, who is undecided on his college plans, led the Rams with 36 goals and 78 points and placed second with 42 assists. His award gave his teammates one more reason to smile.
“We did have a good team this year and I would have loved to be here and playing with the boys,” Strand said. “But this is definitely a consolation.”
Even Jay Hardwick, coach of rival Warroad, felt happy for Strand.
“It’s a very deserving honor,” Hardwick said. “I’m happy he’s graduating now, though, because every time we played Roseau, he killed us.”
The other finalists were Alex Bump (Prior Lake), Joey DelGreco (Grand Rapids), Drew Fisher (Cretin-Derham Hall), Daimon Gardner (Warroad), Hill-Murray teammates Dylan Godbout and Leo Gruba, Barrett Hall (Gentry Academy), Gavin Lindberg (Moorhead) and Tristan Sarsland (Benilde-St. Margaret’s).
Ben Dardis of Mahtomedi won the Frank Brimsek Award, which recognizes Minnesota’s top senior goaltender. The other finalists were Marko Belak (Cretin-Derham Hall) and Austin Brauns (Andover).
Dardis, undecided on his college plans, led the state with a .939 saves percentage while finishing 16-12-1 with five shutouts. A Class 1A state tournament champion in 2020, Dardis led the Zephyrs to a third-place finish this season.
The 10 finalists for the Mr. Hockey Award, founded in 1985, and the three finalists for the Frank Brimsek Award are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts and other hockey experts from around the state.
Both awards are presented by the Minnesota All Sports Alliance.