|Lexi Baker||Lakeville South||13-8-0||2.12||.912||5||Bemidji State|
|Alexa Dobchuk||Eden Prairie||14-9-1||1.93||.922||6||Colgate|
|Kaity McKenzie||South St. Paul||18-5-2||1.30||.941||10||Cornell|
|Sami Miller||Spring Lake Park||11-14-0||2.35||.930||4||UW-River Falls|
The puck stops here. It’s time to announce the five finalists for the 2018 Let’s Play Hockey Senior Goalie of the Year Award for girls’ high school hockey goaltenders in Minnesota. The winner will be announced on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Ms. Hockey Awards Banquet at the St. Paul RiverCentre, the day after the conclusion of the girls’ high school state tournament.
The five finalists for the Senior Goalie of the Year Award combine for a 1.79 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and a grade-point average of 3.58.
The Senior Goalie of the Year Award is presented to the top senior girls’ high school hockey goalie in the state of Minnesota, based on the following criteria: academics, community/extra-curricular activities, citizenship, coachability and, of course, on-ice performance.
Alphabetically, here are the five finalists for the 2018 Let’s Play Hockey Senior Goalie of the Year Award:
Lexi Baker • Lakeville South
One of the state’s top goalies the past two seasons, Lexi Baker has compiled a 13-8-0 record with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage to go along with her five shutouts. An all-conference selection, she has backstopped the Cougars to a pair of South Suburban Conference championships.
This season, Baker has allowed two or fewer goals in 13 of her 21 starts and enters the postseason with only four goals allowed in her past three games. During the year, she has been involved in eight one-goal games, posting a 5-3-0 record in those contests. She will continue her hockey career at Bemidji State in the fall.
“Lexi is an outstanding goaltender that has very strong technical skills,” Lakeville South head coach Mark Johnson said. “She puts our team at ease when she is in net and gives us a chance regardless of the opponent and has the ability to steal games. As one of our seniors, the girls look up to her for her outstanding work ethic and leadership on and off the ice.”
The owner of a 3.508 GPA, Baker has been a consistent volunteer at All Saints Catholic Church with various community service projects. In addition to hockey, she played JV lacrosse for three years.
“It’s been a pleasure to coach Lexi,” Johnson said. “Players like Lexi only come around once in a lifetime. I will greatly miss her leadership and work ethic next year.”
Alexa Dobchuk • Eden Prairie
A mainstay in the Eden Prairie net for five seasons, Alexa Dobchuk has started all but one game for the Eagles since the beginning of her freshman year. Dobchuk has compiled a career record of 82-30-8 with 32 shutouts, ranking first in school history in both wins and shutouts. This season, she owns a 14-9-1 overall record with a 1.93 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage and six shutouts.
A 2017 all-state selection and three-time all-conference honoree, Dobchuk has backstopped the Eagles to three top-four finishes at the state tournament – first in 2016, third in 2017, fourth in 2014. She will continue her hockey career at Colgate in the fall.
“In coaching the sport for 23 years, she is the best goalie I have had the privilege to coach, and in my opinion has been the best goalie in the state the past few seasons,” Eden Prairie head coach Jaime Grossman said. “You never see Alexa have to make the dramatic save because she is so fundamentally sound, she is always in the right spot. She is the prototypical goalie as she has size, her movement is unmatched and she has the ability to get to second chance shots, but that isn’t often needed because she pays such close attention to her rebound control.”
Off the ice, Dobchuk has a 3.875 GPA, has been on the A or B Honor Roll since ninth grade and earned a 2017 ExCEL Award. She volunteers her time in the Eden Prairie Hockey Association, as well as several community service projects.
“Alexa has a drive and determination like no other athlete that I have met,” Grossman said. “She is a student of the game, will never be outworked and is a perfectionist when it comes to stopping the puck. She thrives in the toughest of situations, and prefers to do the drills with the highest level of difficulty. This willingness to put in the time and always do extra work has propelled her to be the best goalie in a program that has a history of great goaltending.”
Anna Kruesel • Blake
The owner of some of the best statistical numbers in the state, Anna Kruesel ranks first in the state in wins, fifth in shutouts (9) and seventh in goals-against average (1.26). She has backstopped the Bears to a 22-1-2 record and the No. 2 ranking in Class AA.
Kruesel owns 26 career shutouts and a career record of 90-13-5. In her 25 appearances this season, she has allowed a total of 32 goals, holding opponents to two goals or less in 22 contests. Kruesel has played in an unprecedented four state championship games in her career. She will continue her hockey career at Amherst in the fall.
“Anna has been a brick wall for us since her very first game as an eighth grader when she recorded a shutout,” Blake head coach Shawn Reid said. “She has been incredibly consistent and allows our team to play the style of play we do. We know we can give up several grade-A chances each game, knowing that she has the team's back.”
The owner of a 3.84 GPA, Kruesel volunteers at hospitals and for PABS packs – an endeavor started by two Blake students where they collect feel-good items in a backpack for children at children’s hospitals. She was also an election judge last November.
“As awesome as Anna has been on the ice, it’s off the ice where her character totally shines.” Reid said. “She is an altruistic, positive and empathetic young woman who sees the world beyond herself. Her dream to be a prosecutor and represent disadvantaged women and children aligns with her core values of respect, compassion, fairness, passion and purpose.”
Kaity McKenzie • South St. Paul
Backstopping one of the state’s premier girls’ high school hockey programs, Kaity McKenzie has helped the Packers to a 19-5-2 overall record and the No. 7 ranking in Class A. Through the end of the regular season, she owns an 18-5-2 record, and ranks second in the state in shutouts (10), third in wins, sixth in save percentage (.941) and eighth in goals-against average.
McKenzie has allowed two or fewer goals 20 times, and has given up only two goals in her last three games. She ranks in the top five in program history in games played, wins, shutouts and goals-against average. McKenzie will continue her hockey career at Cornell in the fall.
“Kaity will go down as one of the top goalies in Packer history,” South St. Paul head coach Dave Palmquist said. “That is a pretty big accomplishment considering our history. She stands 6-2 and dominates games. Her shutdown goaltending allows her team a chance to win every game. She is a true difference maker.”
Away from hockey, McKenzie has a 3.5 GPA and owns a SAT score in the top 10 percent in the nation. She is an avid volunteer, giving time at animal shelters, a horse rehabilitation center, among other places.
“Kaity is a good citizen and is responsible in how she contributes at home and in her community,” Palmquist said. “She participates in class activities and keeps things clean around our school. Kaity cares about our locker room and understands what it stands for and what it means to our program.”
Sami Miller • Spring Lake Park
For the better part of three seasons, it’s been Sami Miller in the nets for the Spring Lake Park Panthers. During her career, she has won nearly 60 percent of her games, and has earned 14 shutouts. This season, Miller owns an 11-14-0 overall record with a 2.35 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage and four shutouts.
Miller has faced the eighth-most shots in the state this season (844) and has made 30 more saves in 13 games on the year, including a 63-save effort in the second game of the year vs. Andover. Despite the number of shots faced, Miller has allowed two or fewer goals in 15 games this season. She will continue her hockey career at Wisconsin-River Falls in the fall.
“Sami has been an integral part of our program and team success since she has been on the team,” Spring Lake Park head coach Sandy Nelson said. “Game in and game out, she has had to perform to her absolute best abilities to keep our team in games. Sami has faced many quality opponents, and she has managed to always be the best player on the ice.”
Off the ice, Miller owns a 3.2 GPA and has been an avid volunteer with a number of organizations, including Feed My Starving Children, Meals on Wheels and Big Brother/Big Sister. She has also been a student coach with Spring Lake Park youth hockey and soccer.
“Sami is above all else, a quality person,” Nelson said. “She is a great kid to have around the locker room and someone a coach would consider a dream player for their program. Sami is a two-time co-captain of our team and is a student-athlete of high character.”
The winner of the 2018 LPH Senior Goalie of the Year Award will be named at the Ms. Hockey Awards Banquet on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the St. Paul RiverCentre. Additionally, all-state and all-academic awards will be presented by the Minnesota Girls’ Hockey Coaches Association, as well as the coaches of the year, the Brano Stankovsky Award, and the Charlie Stryker and Adrenaline Fundraising Scholarship awards for 2017-18. KARE 11 news anchor Julie Nelson will be the keynote speaker at the banquet. Tickets for the Ms. Hockey Awards Banquet may be ordered by calling Beth Kurtt at 612-306-1935.
Both awards are sponsored by Let’s Play Hockey, GoodWood Hockey, OS Hockey and the Minnesota Wild.
Past Senior Goalie of the Year winners: 2017 Breanna Blesi (Maple Grove), 2016 Jenna Brenneman (Breck), 2015 Frances Marshall (Thief River Falls), 2014 Erin O’Neil (Hopkins), 2013 Sydney Rossman (Minnetonka), 2012 Erika Allen (Roseville Area), 2011 Julie Friend (Minnetonka), 2010 Kallie Billadeau (Hopkins), 2009 Laura Bellamy (Duluth), 2008 Alyssa Grogan (Eagan), 2007 Ashley Nixon (Blaine), 2006 Allana McCready (Centennial), 2005 Johanna Ellison (Cloquet/Esko/Carlton), 2004 Emily Brookshaw (Hill-Murray), 2003 Robin Doepke (Chaska), 2002 Amber Hasbargen (Warroad), 2001 Jody Horak (Blaine), 2000 Shari Vogt (River Lakes), 1999 Katie Beauduy (Blaine).