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Hill-Murray's Gruba named Reed Larson Award winner

03/15/2022, 9:45am CDT
By Let's Play Hockey

Leo Gruba led the Pioneers to a third-place finish in this year's Class AA State Tournament. He was a Mr. Hockey Finalist and also a member of the Class AA All-Tournament Team. Photo by Matt Harrington

March 15, 2022 - Hill-Murray defenseman Leo Gruba was named the Reed Larson Award winner by Let’s Play Hockey Tuesday. The award is given to the state’s top senior prep defenseman.

Gruba was one of 26 nominees for the award and helped lead the Pioneers to a third-place finish at the state tournament last week.

Gruba was a captain on this year’s Hill-Murray squad and had 12 goals and 21 assists in 31 games. A gifted skater who plays tough with and without the puck, Gruba is ranked No. 100 amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

“Leo is a very offensively gifted defenseman as he has advanced in his high school career,” said Hill-Murray Head Coach Bill Lechner. “He has a heavy shot, is extremely strong, and has excellent skating skills.”

Gruba, at 6’2” and 205 pounds, has a rare combination of size, speed and skill.

“He has physical presence with soft hands,” said Lechner. “He is an exceptionally complete defenseman.”

Lechner also praised Gruba’s leadership skills.

“Leo is one of our Captains that makes every player feel an important part of our team,” he said.  “He has great pride in wearing the Hill-Murray jersey.”

Gruba was also named a Mr. Hockey Finalist and named to the Class AA All-Tournament Team. He is currently uncommitted and will play for the St. Cloud Norsemen alongside Mr. Hockey winner Max Strand of Roseau. Mahtomedi's Ben Dardis won the Frank Brimsek Award as the state's top senior goaltender.

The Reed Larson Award is named in honor of Reed Larson, a native of Minneapolis who played on the blue line for Minneapolis Roosevelt High School and the University of Minnesota, followed by 904 regular season games in the NHL, most notably as a captain of the Detroit Red Wings. He finished his career with 685 points and was enshrined in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

The winner of the Reed Larson Award is based on the following criteria: academics, community/extra-curricular activities, coachability and, of course, on-ice performance. The winner is chosen by a panel of Division I coaches and NHL scouts.

Past recipients include: 2021 Jack Peart (Grand Rapids), 2020 Wyatt Kaiser (Andover), 2019 Mike Koster (Chaska), 2018 Luke LaMaster (Duluth East), 2017 Dylan Samberg (Hermantown), 2016 Wyatt Aamodt (Hermantown), 2015 Jacob Olson (Hill-Murray), 2014 Luc Snuggerud (Eden Prairie), 2013 Jake Bischoff (Grand Rapids).

The award is presented by Let's Play Hockey.


Tag(s): State Of Hockey