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A future Gopher is Ms. Hockey, and a state standout is Senior Goalie of the Year

Northfield senior hockey standout Ayla Puppe admits she came into Sunday's Ms. Hockey banquet unprepared to give a winner's acceptance speech.

Good thing her résumé did the talking. A state-high 111 points (50 goals, 61 assists). A 27-1 regular-season record and Class 2A state tournament appearance. Whether as a team or an individual, Puppe made a strong case toward becoming the first Ms. Hockey winner from a southern Minnesota community since Red Wing's Taylor Heise in 2018.

"I probably should have had something ready, but I was just in shock," Puppe said after the 29th annual Let's Play Hockey and Ms. Hockey/Senior Goalie of the Year awards banquet at the St. Paul RiverCentre. "It was just an honor to be a finalist and up here on stage with these girls."

Teammate Grace McCoshen, a fellow Star Tribune All-Metro first-team member, found the words Puppe could not.

"She's one of a kind," McCoshen said. "She's a great player and a great teammate. I had a feeling she would win it. People usually underrate small towns, so it's good to see her to win."

The other Ms. Hockey finalists were Lindzi Avar (Minnetonka), Kate Kosobud (Moorhead), Ilsa Lindaman (Duluth Marshall) and Josie St. Martin (Stillwater).

Puppe has committed to the University of Minnesota, but underneath all her hockey success is a heart for volleyball. She never played at any point in life, but the fantasy persists.

"I've been watching Nebraska volleyball for a really long time," Puppe said. "And before every game, our team plays volleyball to warm up. It's my dream to be a Division I volleyball player, but I think it's a little late for that."

Hill-Murray's Grace Zhan received the Senior Goalie of the Year Award, renamed this year for Jori Jones, the former Roseville and Gustavus Adolphus goalie who was killed in a 2023 automobile accident. Zhan never knew the award's namesake but met with the Jones family afterward to show her appreciation and gratitude.

"I have few friends at school who were close friends with Jori and told me what an amazing person she was," Zhan said. "They were really happy for me to win and said I kind of remind them of Jori — which is an honor I can't express with words."

Zhan, a Star Tribune All Metro first-team selection who is committed to Dartmouth, was selected over finalists Claire Bronson (Lakeville South), Kaitlin Groess (Centennial/Spring Lake Park), Dani Strom (Maple Grove) and Kayla Simonson (Delano/Rockford).