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UMD women's hockey: Bulldogs' Hughes among five finalists for Hockey Humanitarian Award

Minnesota Duluth senior center Gabbie Hughes is the Bulldogs' second Hockey Humanitarian Award finalist in school history. She has brought awareness this season to mental health issues facing youth and college athletes through her work with Sophie's Squad.

Women hockey players in purple and yellow compete against players in white and maroon at Amsoil Arena
Minnesota Duluth forward Anna Klein (19) and Minnesota Duluth forward Gabbie Hughes (17) celebrate a third period goal against Minnesota State on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth senior center Gabbie Hughes is among the five finalists for the 2022 Hockey Humanitarian Award , an honor presented to what the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation calls “college hockey’s finest citizen.”

Other finalists include Saint Mary's senior goaltender Jordan Keeley, Union senior forward Josh Kosack, Rensselaer junior defenseman Hannah Price and the Massachusetts-Boston duo of junior forwards Jacob Adkins and Andrew Walker. They were among the 11 nominees announced back in January. The winner will be honored on April 9, 2022, during the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in Boston.

The Hockey Humanitarian Award is an all-gender, all-division award in college hockey. While the Bulldogs men's and women's programs have had six nominees since the award was founded in 1996 — including UMD senior goaltender Ben Patt this year — only Zoe Hickel was named a finalist during her senior season of 2014-15.

Hughes, a senior center on the Bulldogs women’s team, has brought awareness to mental health in youth and college athletics this season through her work with UMD's Green Bandana Project and Sophie’s Squad — an organization she and her family helped found following the death of 14-year-old Sophie Wieland by suicide over the summer. Wieland was not only a player that Hughes and her father — Terry — coached, but a friend as well.

Hughes and her family hosted a Hockey Hits Back event on Jan. 15 at Amsoil Arena that raised $8,000 for Sophie’s Squad, which has been holding Hockey Hits Back events at Minnesota high schools this season to raise awareness for mental health issues.

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“Just throughout all of this that has happened since the day we found out (Sophie) had passed, I think something changed in my heart and my head that I needed to do something about this,” Hughes said on the Bulldog Insider Podcast back in January. “It’s so much more important than just the game.

“I love the game so much and I’m so passionate about it. I play my heart out every single game, but it’s just for a different reason now.”

Hughes ranks fourth in the country in scoring with 1.63 points per game via 16 goals and 33 assists in 30 games. Her average of 1.10 assists per game is second in the nation.

At Amsoil Arena, personalized videos are played every time a Bulldog records a point. They are also used in introductions and shared on social media as GIFs. Hughes' video this season is a tribute to Wieland, whose initials are showcased on Hughes' stick before the Bulldogs assistant captain points to the sky.

“I carry her sticker around with me everywhere and now I play for her,” Hughes said back in October, explaining her tribute. “A lot of the things I do, I live for her, so that she can see the true beauties of the world. I can show her what it's like to play college hockey while she's looking down on me. My GIF is just showing her and letting people know that's why I do what I do and why. When I score, I'm doing it for her this year.”

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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