For Grand Rapids teammates Avery Peterson and Hunter Shepard, sweeping the state’s highest hockey honors meant letting everyone else in on their joke.
Peterson received the 30th annual Mr. Hockey award, given to the state’s best senior skater, at Sunday’s banquet at the St. Paul RiverCentre. Shepard received the Frank Brimsek Award, given to the state’s top senior goalie. They were the first teammates so recognized in the 19 years both awards have been presented.
“I thought he was going to win the award so I called him, ‘Frank,’ all year,” Peterson said. “It kind of bothered him, but it probably made him stop more pucks than he would have.”
Said Shepard: “He thinks he’s pretty funny. He actually ran my Twitter account for a while because I don’t have an iPhone. After some games he’d go on there and put, ‘Mr. Shutout,’ or something.”
Peterson, a 6-2, 200-pound forward, tallied 37 goals and 67 points in 27 games this season. His 203 career points ranks first for the tradition-rich Grand Rapids program. Peterson, a 2013 sixth-round draft pick of the Wild, will attend Nebraska Omaha.
Shepard boasted a 18-9 record with a 2.64 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
The awards were presented by the Minnesota Minute Men one day after the conclusion of the state tournaments that crowned Edina as the Class 2A champion and East Grand Forks as the winner of Class 1A.
The other nine Mr. Hockey finalists were forwards Tyler Cline (Blaine), Spencer Naas (Benilde-St. Margaret’s), Mitch Slattery (Hill-Murray), Steven Spinner (Eden Prairie) and Zach Yon (Roseau) and defensemen Phil Beaulieu (Duluth East), Tyler Nanne (Edina), Luc Snuggerud (Eden Prairie) and Nick Wolff (Eagan). Elk River’s Mac Berglove was the other Frank Brimsek finalist.
Players are selected by a panel of NHL scouts, USHL scouts, Division I college coaches Division III college coaches and selected media members.
Peterson said adversity earlier in his career made capturing Mr. Hockey so much sweeter. He played one season on the Squirt B team and got cut from a couple of summer teams.
“Those were bumps in the road, so it’s really cool to win Mr. Hockey,” Peterson said. “That’s something you dream about when you’re a kid.”
Peterson posed for pictures alongside Shepard, both clutching glass trophies and donning personalized Wild jerseys.
“I think I was more pumped when he won the award,” Peterson said.
Said Shepard: “It means a lot because without each other it wouldn’t have been the same. He’s so dedicated. I wouldn’t be here without him.”