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Player Of the Year Finalists

02/21/2013, 10:00pm CST
By Press Release

The finalists for the Player of the Year award have been announced by the WHCA

The American Family Insurance/WHCA Player of the Year finalists have been voted on by state high school coaches.

After the initial round of voting, the members of the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association have cut the list of players down to eight, it was announced today.

The final group of eight will be honored at the POTY/State Tournament banquet, which will be held at a site to be announced on Wednesday, February 27, the night before 'Quarterfinal Thursday.'

The eight finalists are:

  • Thomas Aiken, WNS Storm
  • Quinn Disrud, KMMO
  • Thomas Fazio, Homestead
  • Griff Jeszka, Marqutte
  • Zach Jones, Verona
  • Joshua Lemke, Chequamegon/Phillips
  • Steven Phillips, Notre Dame Academy
  • Daniel Tripicchio, Hudson

The WHCA coaches will vote on the finalists, with the winner to be announced at the POTY/ State banquet on February 27.

You can read the players' nominations by clicking on their names below. Just scroll down to the bottom of the player profile page.

Selection Process

STEP ONE » Coaches nominate player(s)

The criteria for the AFI/WHCA’s Player of the Year Award (in no particular order):

  • Outstanding performance on the ice
  • Academic achievement
  • Community role model
  • Must be a senior

If you are going to nominate a player, you must write a 1/2-1 page biography using the above-listed criteria.


Each head coach will select their top five candidates, based on the player bios, which will narrow the field to the “8 Finalists.”


Coaches vote for Player of the Year from the list of 8 finalists.

Thomas Aiken

Whitefish Bay High School

Thomas Aiken is the single most impressive student and hockey player I have ever taught or coached. I cannot think of a moment where he did not make the exact decision that he should have made. More importantly, he hears these compliments everyday and not once has he let any of it go to his head. He is simply one of the finest graduates ever to come out of Whitefish Bay HS.

All of this is natural. It is who he is. He is the embodiment of integrity. Thomas is the model to whom we compare other students at Whitefish Bay HS. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not. He is that good and that impressive. His nickname is “Senator” because he acts and talks like a diplomat; it’s as though he was born 40 years old. People act more maturely when they are around him. I see it at school and at the hockey rink; his presence makes people conscious of their own behavior. All of this happens because Thomas is uncommon in everything he does. Uncommon because he is unwilling to settle for anything less than his or anyone else’s best effort. Uncommon because everything he does is genuine and unselfish.

For the past 3 seasons, Thomas has been the hardest worker on the hockey team - always the first one on the ice and always the last one off the ice. Never afraid to try to improve himself, he constantly asks me, “What do I need to do to get better?” He then commits to improving whatever minor weakness he may have and will do so again and again until that too becomes strength. He was HM All-State last year, 2nd Team All-Area Milwaukee, and 1st Team All-Conference for the past 2 years. As a result of his efforts, he currently leads the state in points for a defenseman with 51 points, and the state with assists with 42 in 25 games.

Thomas is at the top of his class at WFBHS and carries a 4.167 GPA. He is the president of our National Honor Society. He is president of our Student Council. He is our class president. He is the president of the Wisconsin State High School Student Councils. He was just accepted into Harvard., and no one is jealous of him because he so sincere and humble in everything he does. You have to pinch yourself to remind yourself that he is real.

I can only hope that this letter properly conveys who Thomas Aiken is. He is special. He is unique. He is truly uncommon. And you will not see another like him.

(Nominated by Coach Maco Balkovec)

Quinn Disrud

Kettle Moraine Co-Op

It is my honor to nominate Senior Goaltender, Quinn Disrud, for Player of the Year.

Quinn has been the starting Varsity Goalie at Kettle Moraine since the beginning of his sophomore year. Quinn is a true competitor and has continually improved upon his game, work ethic and attitude season after season. When evaluating Quinn for this honor, please take into consideration Kettle Moraine’ strength of schedule as each year, we aim to play as many top 25 teams as possible.

Quinn has been an integral part of our team’s success, helping us to earn two Conference Championships and a Section Final appearance last season.

Quinn has a cumulative GPA of 4.035 out of 4.3. He has volunteered the last several years at Young Life Youth Group, coaching youth hockey and Lacrosse, Best Buddies and has participated in the National Honors Society. Quinn recently went on a mission trip to South Africa over the summer as well.

Quinn would make an outstanding representation for Player of the Year. I appreciate your consideration.

(Nominated by Coach John Brymer)

Thomas Fazio

Homestead High School

Thomas has grown up a hockey player in the Milwaukee area. He has been a proud member of Team Wisconsin at the PeeWee, U16 and U18 level. At Homestead, Thomas has been a 4 year Varsity player. During those four years, he has accomplished much. He will leave Homestead either holding or being close to many records, including Games Played, Assists and Total Points. While playing a very high level of competition, Thomas has averaged almost 2 points per game for his career. His unselfish style of play helps make his teammates better. He has been a Captain of the Homestead Hockey team for two years. Thomas was named 2nd team All-Conference in the Northshore Conference his sophomore and junior years. This year, with the Homestead team being greatly affected by multiple injuries, it has had to rely heavily on Thomas. He currently leads the team in Goals, Assists and Total Points. Finally, Thomas is a dual sport athlete who also excels in Baseball for Homestead. He is a 3 year varsity player who was named 2nd team All-Conference/All-Suburban Area as an outfielder his junior year.

Although Homestead has struggled this year, he has stepped up to the challenge. He leads the team in Goals and Assists and provides strong leadership. His unselfish style of play helps make his teammates better.

Thomas has achieved a 3.2 average at Homestead High School over the course of his four years. This includes taking multiple Honors courses. He has consistently been named an Honors student each semester/trimester.

Aside from the great statistics, Thomas has expanded his skills by being a volunteer. He has been a member of Kids 4 Kids for the past two years. This organization raises money to assist kids, who once they reach 18, need help living independently. He also works with the Ozaukee Youth Hockey Association volunteering his time and knowledge as a coach.

In short, Thomas has made an impact, not only in the hockey community, but in the classroom and Mequon area. His dedication to the sport goes beyond a regular student athlete and his attitude, dedication and accomplishments should be celebrated.

(Nominated by Coach Tony Navarre)

Griff Jeszka

Marquette University School

The Hilltoppers are proud to nominate Griff Jeszka for the WHCA Mr. Hockey Award. Listed below is some information about Griff’s on ice performance, academic achievements, as well as various service projects he has been involved with. In addition to Griff’s individual on ice performance, I would like to add that Griff played a majority of games this season, with a player on his line, who is a First Year Varsity Player. That player, to date has recorded 7G, 7A, for 14 Points. A true indication that Griff makes players he plays with better.

Griff has been a member of our Varsity Team the past 3 seasons, an Alternate Captain his Junior Year, Team Captain this season. Griff was All-State HM as a Junior and a Team Wisconsin U-16 team member. As a Senior, he played for Team Wisconsin U-18’s.

Griff has maintained a High B Average throughout his 4 years at Marquette University High School. He has been involved with several programs at MUHS, including serving as a “shadow student” for prospective MUHS students, a tutor/advisor to Freshman students who are getting adjusted to the MUHS academic requirements. As a Senior, he was elected as the President of the MH Club. The MH Club is dedicated to promoting service, school spirit, sports, and a sense of community at MUHS. As President Griff has organized, planned, and carried out a variety of school activities and service projects.

The past 4 years, Griff has been very active in the community. He has participated in a variety of service projects, and volunteered his time and efforts with several organizations:

  • Milwaukee Jr. Admirals & Waukesha Youth Hockey Summer Hockey Camps
  • Hales Corner Care Center for Senior Citizens
  • St. Joseph Annual Parish Festival
  • Mount Carmel Nursing Home
  • Special Olympics
  • Next Door Foundation (City of Milwaukee)
  • Howard Village
  • Has done Farm Chores every summer for his Grandmother, and her neighbors

(Nominated by Coach Troy Sippl)

Zach Jones

Verona Area High School

Zach Jones proves worthy of the Mr. Hockey award through his consistent commitment to excellence both on and off the ice. As a 4 Year Varsity Letter winner in hockey, he’s the all-time leading scorer in Verona High School hockey history with 161 Points. Zach has been a 1st team Big 8 all-conference the last two seasons & Honorable mention all-state last year. He led the Wildcat varsity team in scoring as a sophomore and was second on last season’s State Semi-Finalist team, (2nd to POY finalist, Eddie Matsushima). He has been a leading goal scorer for his Madison WEHL team the last 3 seasons. His U18 Madison WEHL Team has won the league tournament; and personally earned 1st team recognition both seasons. In the Fall Zach plays for the very successful Verona Wildcat Varsity football team, 2x letter winner and was honorable mention all conference as a senior.

As a senior he was a unanimous selection by his teammates for team Captain. He is currently leading the team and conference in scoring. He has helped lead his team to back to back Big 8 Conference titles. Zach is easily one of the most respected hockey players to ever wear a Verona hockey sweater; his skills, work ethic, and character are unmatched; making him an ideal high school scholar athlete.

In the classroom Zach carries an impressive 3.8 cumulative GPA. He is a part of the National Honor Society, Received High Honors and a member of the Verona’s Freshman Mentor Program. Jones has also been a volunteer for many church and community service projects in the past few years.

For these reasons and more, Zach Jones should be considered for the Wisconsin High School Hockey Player of the Year.

(Nominated by Coach Joel Marshall)

Joshua Lemke

Chequamegon Phillips Co-op

The Chequamegon Phillips Coaching Staff has the great pleasure of nominating
Joshua Lemke for the Mr. Hockey Award. Joshua is a senior at Phillips High School. Joshua is a great defensive forward putting forth 100% effort and desire every time he steps on the ice. With his leadership skills, he creates the level to which players excel to achieve in practices and in games. With his strong skating abilities, puck handling skills, and ice awareness, unselfishly Joshua is relied on to play both offense and defense during games to put our best team on the ice during critical situations.

Joshua has lettered 4 years in hockey. As a freshman, Joshua worked his way onto the first line as a wing at the end of the year after starting the year as a defenseman. His sophomore year, Joshua was voted a team captain by his teammates and has received a vote for captain by every player on the team his junior and senior year. Joshua played defense his sophomore year receiving the Defensive Player of the Year Award. His junior year, as a 2nd year captain, he took control of the team in a leadership role on and off the ice. He was awarded Team MVP his junior year along with the plus/minus award.

Joshua maintains a 3.826 GPA while taking AP and college prep classes. He is a member of the National Honor Society and has been for two years. He is planning on continuing his education in the medical field with the goal of becoming a doctor/surgeon.

Joshua volunteers in community outreach programs through school organizations and his church. He helps in the Price Ice Youth Hockey Program at their practices by demonstrating skating and puck handling techniques. He worked at Price Youth Day for the last four years where skills and development camp is put on by the High School Team. He volunteers to umpire and referee baseball and football and hockey games for area youth teams.

Joshua’s development in the last two years has been truly incredible but understandable with his physical development and growth combined with his tenuous work and practice habits. He leaves a lasting and great impression on anyone who has played against him this season. It is our feeling that he represents and fulfills the credentials for American Family Insurance / WHCA Mr. Hockey Award and we are very proud to nominate Joshua.

Nominated by the coaching staff of Chequamegon Phillips

Steven Phillips

Notre Dame Academy

As the head coach at Notre Dame Academy, it is my honor to nominate Steven Phillips for your consideration with the American Family Insurance/ WHCA Player of the Year Award.

Steven exemplifies the Mr. Hockey award through his consistent commitment to excellence both on and off the ice. Steven is a 4th year player at Notre Dame that has performed at an exceptional level throughout his entire career. Steven has been in a leadership role within my program for the past two seasons. Mr. Phillips leads by example and is one of my most consistent players on my roster. Steven was instrumental in our run through the playoffs and winning our program’s first ever State Championship.

Steven has been a top 9 forward since his freshman season. Steven is a prototypical power forward at 6’2 and 212 pounds. Steven does so many little things in the game that do not end up on the score sheet. Steven gets critical minutes in all phases of the game and is one of the best penalty kill forwards in the state. A north-south player that is not afraid to go the hard areas of the rink, create space for his line mates along with a strong net front presence both 5 on 5 and on our power play.

Steven has challenged himself academically throughout his career and currently
sits at a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Steven, like most high school student athletes, manages his time well to perform academically. Steven was an honor roll student during his time at NDA, most recently the fall semester of this year.

Steven has given back to our community in several ways: Steven volunteers his time to instruct our local Mite U8 ADM program. Steven has also volunteered his time at the local YMCA in various capacities of their youth sports programs. Steven has participated in the Notre Dame Academy “serves” program, which is a community based program offering help to those in need throughout our community, most recently with Paul’s Pantry which serves the homeless and people in need within our community. Steven also regularly gives time at the Ledgeview Nursing Home.

Steven has received numerous awards and recognition during his career at Notre Dame:

  • FRCC All Conference 2011-2012
  • FRCC All Conference 2010-2011
  • Coaches Unsung Hero Team Award 2010-2011
  • Mr. Hustle Team Award 2009-2010

Steven is not the flashy, skilled, point producing forward; but does so many little things at a high level that will keep him playing the game beyond high school.
Steven is a young man with outstanding character and work ethic and drives the culture within our program. Steven is a deserving candidate for your consideration.

(Nominated by Coach Cory McCracken)

Daniel Tripicchio

Hudson High School

Daniel Tripicchio has shown outstanding achievement on and off the ice over his three year varsity hockey career as a defenseman and a captain. During Daniel’s junior season he was 1st team all-conference in the Big Rivers Conference and a member of the All-State Honorable Mention team recording 36 points in 21 games played. Daniel led the 2012-2013 regular season in scoring with 38 points and was first on the team in plus-minus with a rating of plus 24. Daniel is the all-time career leader in points by a defenseman for Hudson High School with a career total of 82. Daniel also led Hudson to its first outright Conference Championship in the Big River Conference since 2003 with a record of 11-1. Daniel is a two-time captain of the Hudson Raiders and has also received academic all conference honors in all three seasons that he has played. Away from the high school team Daniel has participated with Team Wisconsin on both their U-16 and U-18 teams.

Away from the rink Daniel is also a leader in the classroom. Daniel currently holds a cumulative G.P.A. of 4.0 and is ranked 17th out of 404 in his class. Daniel is a member of National Honors Society, the Chairman of Athletes Making Progress (AMP), a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), a member of DECA, and the Class Vice President for the 2012 and 2013 school years. Along with Daniel’s involvement in school organizations he has also coordinated the National Honor Society blood drive the past two years and helped organize a food drive for the Hudson Food Shelf during a football game this past season. Daniel’s greatest accomplishment this season was organizing a “Fill the Rink with Pink” event during a game against Simley High School this year; Daniel sold t-shirts and accepted donations to raise over $4,500 for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Hudson.

Daniel’s accomplishments both on and off the ice have made him a player of the year finalist and also a great role model for children in our youth association. Hudson High School is very proud to have Daniel represent our school in this year’s class of finalists.

(Nominated by Coach Brooks Lockwood)

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