The 2016-17 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Hockey Teams were selected by USA TODAY High School Sports based on performance, level of competition and strength of schedule.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Grace Zumwinkle, Breck School (Minn.)
Sami Reber spent four years trying to skate her way to a state championship for Edina (Minn.) High. It took her just one year to do it behind the bench.
A 2011 graduate of Edina, Reber led the Hornets to a 28-1-1 record and their first Minnesota Class AA state title this winter, earning herself the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Coach of the Year award.
“This program has just wanted it for so long,” Reber told the Star Tribune after Edina’s 4-0 win against Blaine (Minn.) in the title game. “I couldn’t be more proud of this group of girls.”
It was only six years ago that Reber was one of those girls. A Ms. Hockey finalist as a senior, Reber was a team captain for the Hornets, leading the team on its first three trips to the state tournament. Edina finished third in 2009 then lost in the state title game in Reber’s junior and senior years.
After graduation, Reber played for Harvard for four years. She was a team captain as a senior and finished her collegiate career with 26 goals and 82 assists in 134 games. She returned to her home state after graduation to take an assistant coach’s job at Minnesota-Duluth, but she left that job after one year to take the head coaching gig at her alma mater.
Reber inherited a very talented team that featured nine future Division I players, including AFI ALL-USA Third Team members Emily Oden and Grace Bowlby. And that doesn’t include goalie Anna Goldstein, an ALL-USA Second Team pick who recorded two shutouts in three state tournament games and is headed to Division III Middlebury College.
But talent isn’t always enough. Reber maximized the talent on her bench, consistently rolling out her three forward lines to great success. Six Hornets scored at least 10 goals and eight players had at least 20 points, led by senior Lolita Fidler, who is following in her coach’s footsteps by heading to Harvard.
The state tournament might have been a bit anticlimactic as Edina outscored its three opponents 12-1 and won 4-0 in both the semifinals and final. But that didn’t make it any less special for Reber, the first woman to coach a state championship hockey team in Minnesota.
“They came ready to work every single day for this goal,” Reber said to the Tribune. “They came ready to make it a reality. And when we do get to hang that banner, it’ll be a day I know I’ll never forget.”
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