The Benilde-St. Margaret’s forward scored 48 goals this season after choosing to stay in high school when options beckoned.
As he prepared to unveil his 28th successor, inaugural Mr. Hockey winner Tom Chorske noted the envelope was not sealed.
The player listed inside might have sealed up the award a year ago.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior forward Grant Besse closed his junior season by scoring all five goals in the Red Knights’ title-clinching victory. His performance set a state tournament record and fueled expectations for a dominant encore performance.
He delivered by scoring 48 goals and raising his overall level of play. Remaining in high school rather than seeking outside opportunities added to his legacy, Red Knights coach Ken Pauly said.
“He was given his moment on stage, but he didn’t quickly exit and say, ‘OK, I got mine so I’m moving on,’ ” Pauly said. “He stayed, and it was good for high school hockey.”
He received the Mr. Hockey award, presented by the Minnesota Minute Men to the state’s top senior skater, Sunday at the St. Paul RiverCentre. Players are selected by a panel of NHL scouts, USHL scouts, Division I college coaches Division III college coaches and selected media members.
The other candidates were Jake Bischoff (Grand Rapids), Zach Glienke (Eagan), Jake Jackson (Tartan), Adam Johnson (Hibbing/Chisholm), Dan Labosky (Benilde-St. Margaret’s), Zach LaValle (Hill-Murray), Parker Reno (Edina), TJ Roo (Totino-Grace) and Tommy Vannelli (Minnetonka).
St. Thomas Academy’s David Zevnik won the Frank Brimsek Award, given to the state’s top senior goalie. Hill-Murray’s John Dugas was the other finalist.
Besse’s hockey interest was new in the family. While older brother Jack would receive basketball tips from their father, John, Besse said he “had to create my own path. The main reason why I’m here is just a love for the game.”
He said that love “first clicked” after he scored in overtime to send Wayzata’s Peewee ‘A’ team to the state championship game.
Besse will play baseball this spring, graduate and head to Wisconsin for summer school classes. Badgers coach Mike Eaves said he is eager to see Besse battle for playing time as a true freshman.
“We watched him at the beginning of last year and saw teams run him a couple times,” Eaves said. “He got right back up and competed. That gave us a real read on his heart and his character.”