The WHCA / American Family Insurance Player of the Year Award, earlier known as the Wisconsin Mister Hockey Award, has been in existence since 2001.
During that time frame, eleven players have raised the winner's award aloft as they received well-earned applause from players, fans, parents, and coaches at the annual state tournament banquet held the Wednesday evening before 'Quarterfinal Thursday.'
Of those eleven players, all but one has played junior hockey; six have played D-1 college; and one--Davis Drewiske--has played in the NHL.
Not too bad for a bunch of cheeseheads, eh?
So for those of you looking ahead to this year's ceremony--which will be held on 'Leap Day,' Wednesday, February 29--here is a look back at the previous winners of this coveted award.
2001 Evan Salmela, D, University School
This hard-nosed defenseman led USM to the state tournament in his freshman and senior seasons. He played two years at the junior level, and then went on to play four years at Cornell University, playing in 58 games (2g-3a).
2002 John Egge, F, Wisconsin Rapids
A quick forward with a nose for the net, Egge led his Red Raiders team to state his junior season, and then played one year of juniors before skating at St. Olaf College for four years, playing in 88 games (24g-32a).
2003 Davis Drewiske, D, Hudson
Some might remember that Drewiske suffered a major injury when he hit the boards head first in a game at the Duluth tournament during his junior year and suffered a broken neck. He played as a sophomore for Hudson at state, scoring three goals and adding an assist as the Raiders won their first state title. Since then, he played four years at the UW, and has another four years of tenure as a member of the L.A. Kings.
2004 Dan Swanson, F, Menomonie
This small, quick forward was the second straight Big Rivers conference player to win the POTY. He played three years at the junior level before moving onto the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) where he played 154 games (16g-24a).
2005 Myles Hamblin, D, Madison Memorial
I have not been able to find any evidence that Hamblin played hockey after high school, but seem to remember that a team in the AWHL or NAHL showed interest. Last I heard, Hamblin was student at the UW studying Landscape Architecture. In high school, he was a wizard on the power play and an excellent playmaker.
2017-2018 - Jack Gorniak, West Salem
2016-2017 - Ian Malcolmson, Waukesha
2015-2016 - Trenton Bliss, Appleton United
2014-2015 - Tony Stillwell, Notre Dame Academy
2013-2014 - Jacob Bresser, Eau Claire Memorial
2012-2013 - Zach Jones, Verona
2011-2012 - Kody Novinska, Rice Lake
2010-2011 - Saxton Soley, Eau Claire Memorial
2007-2008 - Jefferson Dahl, Eau Claire Memorial
2006-2007 - Travis Erstad, SPASH
2005-2006 - Derrick LaPoint, Eau Claire North
2004-2005 - Myles Hamblin, Madison Memorial
2003-2004 - Dan Swanson, Menomonie
2002-2003 - Davis Drewiske, Hudson
2001-2002 - John Egge, Wis Rapids
2000-2001 - Evan Salmela, USM
2006 Derrick LaPoint, D, Eau Claire North
LaPoint led his Huskies squad to Madison his senior year. A smart player, he played one year in juniors before moving to Grand Forks to play four years at UND. He has split time this year in the AHL and ECHL and was a 2006 pick of the Florida Panthers (#116 overall).
2007 Travis Erstad, F, Stevens Point
Erstad played two years in the juniors and had committed to play at the UW, but for some reason ended up playing at D3 UW-Stevens Point. He is in his third year, having missed last season due to injury. In 61 games at UWSP, he has tallied 15g-21a.
2008 Jefferson Dahl, F, Eau Claire Memorial
Dahl is the leading scorer in Old Abes history and can flat-out play. He played two years of juniors and is now in his second year at the UW, playing in 58 games thus far (6g-6a). He has not been the goal scorer he was in HS, but is a team player and plays his role to perfection.
2009 Cody Strang, F, Madison Edgewood
Strang had committed to the UW, but instead will be playing for Bemidji State next season. He spent two years at Youngstown (USHL), scoring 27g-34a in 106 games. He is a talented forward with a knack for scoring.
2010 Max McCormick, F, Notre Dame Academy
A high-energy forward, McCormick can score a goal or scrap in the corner with equal aplomb. After one year at the junior level, he moved on to THE Ohio State University, where he has played 15 games and scored 3g-7a. He is a 2011 draft choice for Ottawa (#171 overall).
2011 Saxton Soley, G, Eau Claire Memorial
The first goalie selected for POTY and the second Old Abe, Soley is now a member of the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL). He was a member of the Odessa Jackalopes training camp roster. He played at state his junior and senior years for ECM.
Tag(s): Home Player of the Year Trasher's Dog House Boys Varsity Badger South Madison Edgewood Big Eight Madison Memorial Big Rivers Eau Claire Memorial Eau Claire North Hudson Menomonie Fox River Classic Notre Dame Wisconsin Valley Stevens Point Wisconsin Rapids Independents University School