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Ms. Hockey Finalists announced

03/26/2021, 12:00pm CDT
By Bryan Zollman

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Five finalists have been named for the coveted Ms. Hockey Award.

Emma Conner (Edina), Rory Guilday (Minnetonka), Peyton Hemp (Andover), Genevieve Hendrickson (Warroad) and Claire Vekich (Grand Rapids/Greenway) will vie for the title of Ms. Hockey 2021. The winner will be announced on April 6 during a broadcast of the award, which will also include the announcement of the Senior Goalie of the Year Award as well as coaches of the year, and all-state awards.

The five finalists have combined to score 380 goals and assisted on another 439 for a total of 819 points. All five finalists are tendered to play Division I hockey. Guilday is signed on to play at Cornell, Hendrickson at Franklin Pierce, Conner and Hemp both at the University of Minnesota, and Vekich at Bemidji State.

More impressive is the five finalists all have grade point averages above 3.7.

Here is a closer look at the five frontrunners for the 2021 Ms. Hockey Award:

Emma Conner, F, Edina (33g-10a-43pts)

Conner leads the Hornets into the state tournament where they have been to the championship game the past four seasons, winning three of them before losing to Andover last year. Conner is in her second season with he Hornets after moving to Minnesota before her junior year.

"Lucky for us Emma transferred in last year and had an immediate impact on our team," said Edina Head Coach Sami Reber. "Not only was Emma our leading scorer last season, but she became such an important person in our locker room too. All of her teammates immediately gravitated towards her."

Conner will further her playing career as a Gopher next season. 

"She is easily one of the best, if not the best forwards in the state," said Reber. "Her power, strength, shot, and overall skill is well beyond what you see at this level and it’s incredible to watch. I know that no matter who we are playing, they are going to have to try extremely hard to stop Emma."

In addition to her on-ice accolades, Conner also excels in the classroom where she has earned a 3.70 grade point average and is on the A Honor Roll. 

Rory Guilday, D, Minnetonka (8g-11a-19pts)

Guilday is a two-time captain for the Skippers as they head into the state tournament after finishing third the past two seasons. Guilday was an all-metro and all-state player last season and was selected for the USA U18 National team where she helped lead them to gold at the World Championships. This past fall she was one of just two high-school aged players in the country chosen to attend the USA Hockey National Development Team Evaluation Camp.

"Rory is a world-class athlete and a phenomenal young lady," said Skippers Head Coach Tracay Cassano. "She brings an abundance of hockey talents, athleticism, determination, work ethic and leadership to her game and to our team."

Guilday possesses size, skill and speed, a lethal combination for opponents. Her slapshot was clocked at 80 mph this past summer.

"The plays she creates on rushes and in the offensive zone are spectacular," said Cassano. "She is also exceptionally steady and solid on defense which makes it difficult for opponents to create scoring chances against our team."

Guilday will attend Cornell University next year and play hockey while furthering her education. She posted a 3.85 grade point average and has been on the A Honor roll since she was a freshman.

Peyton Hemp, F, Andover (33g - 42a - 75pts)

Hemp returns as the top player on the state's top-ranked team, posting an impressive 33 goals, 42 assists and 75 points in just 20 games. 

She is a 3-time all-conference selection and a two-time all-state selection. She has served as team captain the past two seasons and was a member of Team USA's U18 squad that took home gold.

"It has been a privilege coaching Peyton," said Andover Head Coach Melissa Volk. "Peyton is know to be an elite goal scorer and an extremely gritty player. However, even more important is that she is the ultimate team player, always willing to put the team in front of herself. She is one of the most humble players I have ever seen...not just coached, but seen."

Hemp will play next season at the University of Minnesota where she plans to study medicine. She garners a 3.93 grade point average and has also been on the A Honor Roll all through high school.

Genevieve Hendrickson, F, Warroad (30g-34a-64pts)

With a hat trick in Friday's quarterfinal win, Hendrickson reached 30 goals on the season and has 112 in her career. She also has an astounding 186 assists and leads all Ms. Hockey candidates in career points with 298.

Nicknamed "Geno," Hendrickson exhibits an upbeat presence both on and off the ice. She is described as mature, having an upstanding reputation, and someone who strives to achieve at a high level. As captain of the Warriors, the success of the team always comes first for Hendrickson.

Hendrickson is a two-time all-state player and was named to the all tournament team the past two seasons. 

"Geno is an all around top-notch person," said Warriors Head Coach David Marvin. "She's selfless, smart, dedicated and kind. Players like Geno are a big reason why I coach."

She also excels in the classroom where she holds a 3.97 GPA. She will attend Franklin Pierce University next year to further her hockey career and pursue study in a healthcare related field.

Claire Vekich, F, Grand Rapids/Greenway (32g-30a-62pts)

Claire Vekich is not just a hockey player. The senior from Grand Rapids/Greenway has excelled in four different sports for Greenway High School, including volleyball, tennis and softball. She has made all-state in hockey, volleyball and softball, and when Covid-19 suspended the volleyball season this fall, she picked up a tennis racket and by season's end was playing No. 2 singles.

"Claire is a rare, once-in-a-generation athlete," said GRG Head Coach Brad Hyduke. 

Hyduke praised Vekich for her consistent scoring of at least 20 goals and 40 points her entire career, and also her dominance as a power forward who plays all 200 feet of the ice and is a shutdown player against other teams top players. 

"Further, Claire is a top-notch person, student and three-year captain for GRG Hockey," Hyduke said. "Her disposition and work ethic are a role model for her peers. She truly is one of the best ever people, athletes, and hockey players I have witnessed."

Vekich will take her athleticism to Bemidji State where she plans to play hockey and possibly softball. She currently ranks seventh in her class with a GPA of 3.906.

Last year’s winner was Olivia Mobley of Breck. Past winners include: Madeline Wethington of Blake (2019), Taylor Heise of Red Wing (2018), Grace Zumwinkle of Breck (2017), Presley Norby of Minnetonka (2016), Taylor Williamson of Edina (2015), Sydney Baldwin of Minnetonka (2014), Dani Cameranesi of Blake (2013), Hannah Brandt of Hill-Murray (2012), Karley Sylvester of Warroad (2011), Bethany Brausen of Roseville (2010) Becky Kortum of Hopkins (2009), Sarah Erickson of Bemidji (2008), Katharine Chute of Blake (2007), Allie Thunstrom of North St. Paul (2006), Gigi Marvin of Warroad (2005), Erica McKenzie of Hastings (2004), Andrea Nichols of Hibbing/Chisholm (2003), Ashley Albrecht of South St. Paul (2002), Renee Curtin of Roseville (2001), Krissy Wendell of Park Center (2000), Ronda Curtin of Roseville (1999), Laura Slominski of Burnsville (1998), Annamarie Holmes of Apple Valley (1997) and Winny Brodt of Roseville (1996).

The 26th annual award, selected based on votes from a panel of high school coaches and Division I and III college coaches from Minnesota and Wisconsin. The award is sponsored by Let’s Play Hockey, the Minnesota Wild, and True Hockey.

 

Player Team 2021 Stats Career Stats College
Emma Conner Edina 33-10-43 61-29-90 Minnesota
Rory Guilday Minnetonka 8-11-19 15-46-61 Cornell
Peyton Hemp Andover 33-42-75 101-112-213 Minnesota
Genevieve Hendrickson Warroad 30-34-64 112-186-298 Franklin Pierce
Claire Vekich Grand Rapids/Greenway 32-30-62 109-84-193 Bemidji State
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