As a youth hockey player, Will Ingemann felt drawn to the goalie position because of the unique pads. He removed them for the final time in his Wayzata varsity career last week, one game short of the state tournament.

This is not a sad story.

A three-year starter, Ingemann personified goaltending excellence. He allowed an average of less than two goals per game and stopped 92% of shots faced in 71 career games. He posted six shutouts in each of the past two seasons while facing one of the state's toughest schedules. And he signed with St. Thomas, becoming a rare goalie to make a Division I commitment while still in high school.

Ingemann is the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year — the first goalie chosen for the award, which began in 1985.

"There's a light in him," said Pete Samargia, Wayzata goalie coach. "He cares about his teammates, and you get more out of yourself when you're not playing for yourself."

Samargia, who played at the University of Minnesota, owns Attitude Goaltending Inc. He emphasizes traits such as positive mind-set and strong work ethic. The latter is no problem for Ingemann.

Between the first day of the 2022-23 school year and the start of the varsity season, Ingemann took an economics class at Wayzata High School, then drove about an hour north to practice and play with the St. Cloud Norsemen of the North American Hockey League.

"It was a grind," Ingemann said. "But it was worth it."

Ever the eccentric goalie, Ingemann's varsity gameday routine was quite the production. He went to Subway whether he was hungry or not and ordered a sandwich, not on the menu, of chicken, cheese and spinach. Then he went home for a 20-minute nap. No more, no less. Then he took a cold shower. Teammate Brittan Alstead picked him up at 4:15 p.m. and would often wait for the perpetually late Ingemann. But no teammate leaves without the goalie.

Arriving at the Plymouth Ice Center, Ingemann repeated the hand-eye coordination drill he did at home. Then he stretched. Only then did he put on the pads and No. 1 Trojans jersey.

Samargia advises against rituals but promotes Ingemann's healthy routine.

"In about 20 years of working with goalies, there have been three or four with a mind-set like his," Samargia said. "There are no shortcuts with him. He is focused and intentional about competing. One thing you can't fake is a winner, and he can flat out win a game for you."

Ingemann allowed only 11 goals through the season's first eight games. Then in January he got downright stingy. Ingemann won the first five games of the new year by posting more shutouts (three) than goals allowed (two). Those three consecutive goose eggs counted toward a run of more than 170 consecutive minutes of scoreless play.

Then a 0-4-1 stretch followed, knocking Wayzata from its weekslong perch atop the Let's Play Hockey coaches poll. The challenging results led Ingemann, a captain as a peewee and bantam youth hockey player still wearing the "C" patch in high school, to call on his leadership.

He started by looking inward.

"I checked it with myself and realized I needed to get back to the mind-set of, 'You can't half want it. You've got to want the puck to hit you,'" said Ingemann, who added, "I'll even work out at home after a bad practice because any problems you are having won't fix themselves."

The season hit an end with a 2-1 loss to Edina in the section final.

Ingemann is not diminished in Samargia's eyes.

"I've coached him since he was a fourth-year mite," he said. "He doesn't take days off. He's legit."