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Grace Zumwinkle of Breck named Ms. Hockey

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune, 02/26/17, 12:25PM CST


Chosen as the top senior girls' hockey player in the state, Zumwinkle has committed to Minnesota. Breanna Blesi of Maple Grove won top goaltender honors.

Grace Zumwinkle of Breck, recently named Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, was honored as Ms. Hockey on Sunday by Let's Play Hockey magazine as the top senior girls' hockey player in the state.

“You’re lucky, you’ve got Grace,” Ronda Engelhardt heard when she became the Breck girls’ hockey coach in 2013.

Many saw a coach’s dream in then-freshman Grace Zumwinkle. Engelhardt saw a promising player who could, with prodding, become special.

Now they are peers in the annals of Minnesota high school greats. Zumwinkle captured Ms. Hockey honors during Sunday’s banquet at the St. Paul RiverCentre, an award Engelhardt, formerly known as Curtin, won as a senior at Roseville in 1999.

When Engelhardt pushed, Zumwinkle responded. Improvement followed in her skating, shooting and accountability in all three zones.

“It was always a shared vision,” Zumwinkle said “Getting better each day is only going to make me better in the long run and she’s always been there to challenge me and support me.”

With 42 goals this season, Zumwinkle moved to No. 1 on Breck’s career scoring list with 156 goals. Zumwinkle, previously named the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, has committed to the Gophers. Her slapshot, clocked upward of 80 miles per hour, is already college-caliber.

“She’s going to be great next year because she’s going to have that drive to keep pushing,” said Engelhardt, a former Gophers standout.

Zumwinkle emerged from a group of finalists chosen by Let’s Play Hockey magazine. The others were Grace Bowlby of Edina, Emily Brown of Blaine, Naomi Rogge of Eden Prairie and Taylor Wente of Maple Grove.

Breanna Blesi of Maple Grove won Senior Goalie of the Year.

Winners are chosen based on consultations with Division I and III women’s college coaches from Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, and a panel of high school coaches.

In her speech, Zumwinkle credited a long list of coaches. Four years spent with Engelhardt provided Zumwinkle daily challenges and affirmations.

“She’s helped me find that right balance between having fun and improving each day,” Zumwinkle said. “She’s been tremendous in my development.”

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