Sky Hughes, Sr., G

The Wildcats have been one of the best defensive teams in the state over the past three years, allowing an average of 2.25 goals per game and 21.36 shots on goal per game. Hughes has been the backbone of that defensive effort for the past two seasons. She’s 26-22-3 with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. The Wildcats will rely on Hughes to be a brick wall again this season, as they return just two players who scored double-digit goals -- senior defenseman Elizabeth Fagerlind (11 goals) and senior forward Nevaeh Trihey (10).


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Claire Enright, Jr., F

One of three Division I commits on the Tigers’ roster last season, Enright has led the team in scoring the past two seasons. The University of Minnesota commit has two years of high school hockey remaining and has already eclipsed the 100-point mark, with 57 goals and 46 assists through her first three seasons, helping the Tigers to back-to-back state tournament appearances in 2019 and 2020. She excels on special teams, too, with 28 career power-play points and four short-handed goals.


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Taylor Otremba, Jr., F

Another Division I commit in this section, Otremba will play her college hockey at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She still has two seasons of high school hockey remaining and looks to build on a breakout 2019-20 season, in which she led the Cougars with 30 goals and 54 points. Otremba already has three seasons of varsity hockey experience and is a force on special teams, with 22 career power-play points and four short-handed goals. Classmate and fellow forward Ryann Wright (15-30--45 last season) give the Cougars one of the best 1-2 scoring punches in the section.


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Maggie Malecha, Jr., G

In her first season as the Raiders’ starter, Malecha lived up to her predecessor, matching or exceeding the numbers posted by former starter Rachel Bielenberg. Malecha’s .944 save percentage last season was the second-best number in the entire state and her 1.41 goals-against average ranked seventh in the state, regardless of class. She backstopped the Raiders to a 17-10-0 record last season and a spot in the Section 1AA championship game.


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Ezra Oien, So., F

The top-returning goal scorer in the Big Nine Conference, Oien was one of just 15 players in the state last year to score 30 goals in the regular season. She helped the Huskies to a 17-7-1 overall mark, including going 10-2-0 in the second half of the regular season, when she recorded 15 goals and 25 points. Oien leads a strong group of returners for the Huskies this year; nine of their top 10 scorers are back. She was among the best scorers in the section last season, averaging 2.09 points per game.


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Kailey Birkestrand, So., F

In her first full season of varsity hockey, Birkestrand led the Panthers in goals (8) and total points (15). She had five multi-point games and didn’t go more than three games without recording a point. Century won just twice last season, but it returns its top four scorers this winter -- led by Birkestrand -- as well as starting goalie Abigail Conners, a sophomore who played in 22 games last season.


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Greta Freed, Sr., F

Some might say Freed had a breakout season last year as a junior, when she led the Rockets in scoring with 28 goals and 44 points. In reality, Freed’s breakout came in the second half of her sophomore season, playing with star forward Ally Halverson. Freed had 17 of her 38 points that season in the final 11 games. With Halverson off to play college hockey, Freed became one of the top playmakers in the Big Nine Conference last season, finishing in the top 25 in the state in goals scored (28).


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Devynn Priest, Sr., F

Perhaps the best player in southern Minnesota who doesn’t get nearly the amount of recognition as she has earned. How’s this for unselfishness: Priest not only led the Spartans in scoring last season with 25 points, but she also played two games in goal, making 76 saves, when Mayo’s other goalies were out of the lineup with injuries and illnesses. A dynamic scorer, Priest has scored 75 career goals, tallying at least 15 goals and 25 points in all four of her varsity seasons. She’s a threat at even strength and on the power play, where she has 19 career points (10 goals). She’s led Mayo in scoring in three of her four seasons and will be looked at to lead the way again this winter.