Former basketball standout Lindsay Whalen knows how to spot a player with greatness. She also knows hockey, having played as a youngster in Hutchinson for her father, Neil.

The second attribute explains why Whalen agreed to address Stillwater girls hockey players as part of the Ponies' preseason team-bonding hotel trip. The first attribute is why Whalen pointed out Stillwater forward Josie St. Martin early in the meeting.

"Lindsay looked at me and said, 'She's fired up today; she's ready to go,'" said St. Martin, who sat up front with fellow Stillwater captains, tapping her feet on the carpeted ballroom floor. "I think it was because I was twitching. I can never stop moving."

Game respects game.

Whalen had no idea how right she was about St. Martin. A five-year varsity contributor, St. Martin surpassed her previous pace with a career-high 39 assists. Her 26 goals paced the team and ranked second for her career — despite missing five games. She led the United States' Under-18 team with six goals at the World Championships tournament Jan. 6-14 in Switzerland as the Americans secured a gold medal.

St. Martin is the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year in girls hockey.

And when St. Martin came home, she remained the pride of the Stillwater community. She potted two goals in a 6-0 victory on Jan. 16 against Park of Cottage Grove to keep Stillwater on track for its eventual Suburban East Conference championship.

Josie St. Martin's statistics

Two days later, Stillwater mayor Ted Kozlowski proclaimed Josie St. Martin Day — complete with an evening ceremony at the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center. She had reached the pinnacle of international hockey, winning gold after taking silver and bronze in two previous stints representing her country.

Raised by parents and Stillwater graduates Eric, who taught St. Martin to skate on the backyard pond, and Kellei, an assistant synchronized swimming coach, St. Martin played to make her community proud.

St. Martin's accomplishments this season reflected her growth and maturity as a hockey player. Working in silence became one of her team's guiding morals this season. That means putting in the work but not feeling compelled to share on social media. St. Martin took it to heart.

"I felt the need to step up and be the best leader for my teammates that I could possibly be every day," St. Martin said.

Ponies coach Annie Cashman said: "She stopped being in such a hurry to see results. She started enjoying and embracing each stage she was in at that time. She also has worked really hard at putting her teammates, coaches and her community before herself. And she has experienced the rebound effect of that and how loved she is."