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Hopp receives top honors

Prairie Centre's Kylee Hopp fires a shot on goal during a regular season contest against Crookston. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal1 / 2
Prairie Centre's Kylee Hopp controls the puck inside the blue line and drives toward the net during the regular season. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal2 / 2

Prairie Centre's Kylee Hopp's heralded high school career came to a close during the Section 6A playoffs, however, the accolades keep coming in for the 100 point scorer from Wadena-Deer Creek High School.

Hopp was named the team's Hobey Baker Award winner for the 2018-19 season. The award recognizes a high school hockey player who exemplifies character, commitment, teamwork, persistence, selflessness, academic excellence and sportsmanship.

Kylee Hopp. Photo courtesy of Dana Cantleberry/WDC Schools

"Never in a million years would I have thought I would receive the Hobey Baker award," Hopp said. "It was a complete honor and privilege to be awarded with such a character driven award. Everyday I would show up to the rink to play hockey. I would step on that ice with a smile on my face every time. I never thought anything of it. I thought I was going to play hockey with a smile on my face, because that's what the game does to me. The game has given me so much to be thankful for. I feel like going out there and having a good time with my teammates and coaching staff is just paying back the hockey community." Hopp is now part of an elite group of hockey players in the country who can call themselves Hobey Baker winners. It is a distinction among her team of hockey players that is respected and revered, said Prairie Centre head coach Blair Hovel.

Hopp joined the 100 point club for her career during her senior season and finished the season with 36 goals and seven assists. Hopp made the transition from the blueline to forward and really took off as a leader on the ice and off the ice with accepting the change.

Hopp said it means everything to her that her teammates looked up to her as a leader, specially being the only player from Wadena-DC on Prairie Centre.

"The fact that they trusted me and looked up to me so much even though I wasn't physically with them all the time, means so much," Hopp said. "It really shows how much I have impacted their skills on the ice and how much they have impacted me. That was the whole goal which was to build relationships with the girls. While I was building these relationships and friendships it was to become better hockey players. Over the years, we knew we weren't going to be the best team skating wise, but we went out there, we worked hard and made the best of our situations, which is all that we could do. They looked up to me to help them."

Hopp said it's a complete honor and words can't describe the feeling of winning the award. She said looking back on her career she surprised herself. She started as a defense and moved up to forward.

"I think the Blue Devils team has taught me how to be a versatile hockey player and a versatile human being as well," Hopp said. "Our chemistry was always a problem since the beginning because of the distance and the different towns, but learning how to adapt with my team and school. You had to learn how to manage your time and stay on the straight an arrow. I feel the Blue Devils team has really formed me into the person I am because of the all the values it has taught me and not to take anything for granted."

Dana Cantleberry of Wadena-DC schools contributed to this story.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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