It’s fair to say hockey runs in the Hughes family.
Centennial star forward Gabbie Hughes wears No. 7, the same one her dad, Terry, and two older brothers, Collin and Trey, had on the back of their Centennial hockey sweaters. Terry, Collin and Trey each stood out for the Cougars and played beyond high school. Gabbie credits all of them for inspiring her to get on the ice.
Gabbie Hughes was 2 years old when she began skating on a neighbor’s pond. She started playing hockey when she was 4. She played boys’ hockey until her second year of squirts.
Now a freshman, Hughes leads the Cougars in scoring with 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in five games. She was Centennial’s leading scorer last year — her first varsity season — with 29 points in 25 games.
Centennial coach Kristi King called Hughes a “game-changer” and “team player” with speed, great hands, great shot and a sound hockey mind.
“She knows how to be a playmaker but she also knows how to put the puck in the net,” King said. “I think hands down Gabbie is among the top players in the state. She is one of those players that is very special and doesn’t come around too often.”
Hughes spoke recently about growing up in a hockey family, her current team and her hopes for the future.
Q: You play soccer and will play lacrosse this spring, so what is your top sport?
A: Hockey is definitely my No. 1 sport. Mostly it’s been fun connecting with a bunch of different girls. On a team you’re a family. It’s a lot of fun to play.
Q: Did watching your brothers play hockey inspire you?
A: They played on some very good teams at Centennial. It was cool to see how good they were and how fast they moved. I really wanted to do that someday.
Q: Aside from your family, what other hockey players do you look up to?
A: Dani Cameranesi, who plays for the Gophers. My brothers and I knew her brother, and she played boys’ hockey growing up like I did. I’ve always wanted to be like her.
Q: Growing up, was playing hockey against girls too easy for you?
A: I wouldn’t say girls’ hockey was too easy. But playing boys’ hockey made me tougher and stronger on the ice.
Q: Do you think girls’ hockey is more competitive now than when it first became a high school sport?
A: It’s faster and more aggressive now. It’s more balanced.
Q: You’re playing your second year of varsity hockey. How is this year different for you?
A: I didn’t want to speak up too much last year, but I got more comfortable as the year went on. This year I feel like I can say anything.
Q: Can you be a leader as a freshman?
A: At any age you can be a leader. You just have to work your hardest and people will follow.
Q: How good is your team?
A: We have a really hard-working team. We’re talented, but not special yet. The thing about our team is we work really hard all the time.
Q: What are your goals for the team this year?
A: To get to state. But before that we have to win the section.
Q: You play rival Blaine on Dec. 9. Do you look forward to facing them?
A: I always look forward to playing them. I have a lot of friends who play for them. That’s a good rivalry and we always have it circled on the calendar.