Winner will be announced Feb. 25 at annual Ms. Hockey Banquet

The five finalists for the Jori Jones Award, given to the top senior goalie, have been announced by Let’s Play Hockey.

The Jori Jones Award is based on nominations from high school coaches and is selected based on votes from a panel of high school coaches and  college coaches.  The award is based on the following criteria: academics, community/extracurricular activities, citizenship, coachability and, of course, on-ice performance.

This year’s finalists are Claire Bronson (Lakeville South), Kaitlin Groess (Centennial/Spring Lake Park), Kayla Simonson (Delano/Rockford), Dani Strom (Maple Grove), and Grace Zahn (Hill-Murray).

Semifinalists included: Ana Jyrkas (Fergus Falls), Gretchen Paaverud (Anoka), Lily Timmons (Stillwater), Olivia Hansen (Prior Lake), and Tegan Swanson (Eden Prairie).

Collectively, the five finalists have combined to play 6,119 minutes and faced 3,288 shots and made 3,124 saves. They have a combined save percentage of .950 and a combined goals against average of 1.34. They have also combined for 37 shutouts.

The winner of the 2024 Jori Jones Award will be announced at the Ms. Hockey Banquet Feb. 25 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre. The award is sponsored by Let’s Play Hockey, the Minnesota Wild, Tradition Companies, the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association, and PWHL Minnesota. The Banquet is from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets include a meal and program and will be hosted by KSTP’s Chris Long. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $40 per attendee and can be ordered here.

 

Last year’s winner was Uma Corniea of Edina.  Previous winners include: Maggie Malecha of Northfield (2022), Brynne DuLac of Minnetonka (2021), Anna LaRose of North Wright County (2020), Calla Frank of White Bear Lake (2019), Alexa Dobchuk of Eden Prairie (2018), Breanna Blesi of Maple Grove (2017), Jenna Brenneman of Breck (2016), Frances Marshall of Thief River Falls (2015), Erin O’Neil of Hopkins (2014), Sydney Rossman of Minnetonka (2013), Erika Allen of Roseville (2012), Julie Friend of Minnetonka (2011), Kallie Billadeau of Hopkins (2010), Laura Bellamy of Duluth (2009), Alyssa Grogan of Eagan (2008), Ashley Nixon of Blaine (2007), Alannah McCready of Centennial (2006), Johanna Ellison of Cloquet/Esko/Carlton (2005), Emily Brookshaw of Hill-Murray (2004), Robin Doepke of Chaska (2003), Amber Hasbargen of Warroad (2002), Jody Horak of Blaine (2001), Shari Vogt of River Lakes (2000) and Katie Beauduy of Blaine (1999).

HERE IS A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS YEAR’S 5 FINALISTS FOR THE JORI JONES AWARD:

PlayerTeamGamesMinutesW-L-TGAASOGSavesSV %SHOCollege
Claire BronsonLakeville South271422:18:0021-3-30.906576320.96213Undecided
Kaitlin GroessCentennial/SLP251270:31:0022-1-21.006476220.9617Bemidji State
Kayla SimonsonDelano/Rockford221139:10:0012-10-02.378578040.9383Augsburg
Dani StromMaple Grove251204:18:0018-7-01.315575260.9448St. Thomas
Grace ZhanHill-Murray231082:53:0021-3-11.315705400.9476Dartmouth

CLAIRE BRONSON – LAKEVILLE SOUTH

Claire Bronson  Lakeville South

GP: 27

Minutes: 1422:18

W-L-T: 21-3-3

SOG: 657

Saves: 632

GAA: 0.90

SV %: .962

SHO: 13

Bronson leads the state in minutes, save percentage and shutouts and has played din integral role in her team’s success this season.

The senior is still uncommitted, but is a prized prospect who has proven she can stop the puck, facing 657 shots on the season and allowing just 25 goals. She has allowed more than two goals in a game just twice this season.

In her last two seasons as the team’s starting goaltender she has faced 1,222 shots and stopped 1,159 of them for a save percentage of .948. She has 21 career shutouts and a record of 42-8-3. Her goals against average the past two seasons is 1.19.

“Claire has been the starting goalie at Lakeville South high school for the past two seasons. She has played every minute this year for our team. She is a calming influence for her teammates both on the ice and in the locker room. She has the ability to shake off a goal against her. She is able to keep focused in pressure situations. We are looking to Claire to carry us deep into the section playoffs this year.” – Head Coach Tim Morris

 

KAITLIN GROESS – CENTENNIAL/SPRING LAKE PARK

Kaitlin Groess  Centennial/Spring Lake Park

GP: 25

Minutes: 1270:31

W-L-T: 22-1-2

SOG: 647

Saves: 622

GAA: 1.00

SV %: .961

SHO: 7

Groess has played in every game for the Cougars and has a record of 22-1-2. She has been named all-conference for three years and has also served as captain for three seasons. She has faced more than 25 shots per game on average and has a goals against average of 1.00, a big reason why the Cougars have lost only once all season long. The lone loss was 1-0 to Maple Grove where she made 35 saves.

Groess has won 66 games in her career (66-24-3) and has 24 career shutouts. In her four seasons as a starter she has never had a save percentage below .913. She is committed to Bemidji State University.

“Kaitlin has been our rock on the back-end during her 4 seasons as our starting goalie. She is extremely athletic, and is a fierce competitor. She is at her best against top competition. She is instrumental in our team culture as a highly positive leader that all of our girls respect, and look up to. She is having her best season this year as a senior, and has been instrumental to our teams very strong start to the season. Kaitlin is a highly talented goalie, and great person, and deserves all of the accolades she receives.” – Head Coach Sean Molin

 

 

KAYLA SIMONSON – DELANO/ROCKFORD

Kayla Simonson Delano/Rockford

GP: 22

Minutes: 1139:47

W-L-T: 12-10-0

SOG: 857

Saves: 804

GAA: 2.37

SV %: .938

SHO: 3

Simonson has seen a lot of shots come her way and leads this list of top goalies with 857 shots on goal and turning away 804 of them for an impressive save percentage of .938.  She has faced 40 more more shots in 11 games, 50 or more shots in three and 60-plus shots in three. She stopped 67 of 69 shots in a 2-1 loss to Holy Family and 63 of 65 shots in a 2-1 loss to Proctor/Hermantown. In their section semifinal loss to No. 2A Orono, Simonson made 55 saves.

Simonson has played in 88 games in her high school career. In her four seasons she has never had a save percentage lower than .914, which occurred during her freshman season.

Simonson is committed to play college hockey at Augsburg University in Minneapolis.

“Kayla is a tremendous goaltender who competes every day. She protects the net with desperation and hates letting it get by her. She plays with fierce intensity and has led us through the toughest schedule in program history. When she is in the net everyone plays with so much more confidence knowing she’s going to pick us up and come through for us every time we need her. Goals are so hard to come by in practice which has allowed us to develop more consistent goal scoring against other goalies because if a shot gets by her, it will get by everyone else too. That has been our mindset as shooters and that is a direct result of the way she practices, and the way she pushes her teammates forward. We have taken significant steps forward this year, and one of, if not the biggest reason for that, is Kayla Simonson.” – Head Coach Lance Reynolds

DANI STROM – MAPLE GROVE

Dani Strom Maple Grove

GP: 25

Minutes: 1204:18

W-L-T: 18-7-0

SOG: 557

Saves: 526

GAA: 1.31

SV %: .944

SHO: 8

Strom is coming off an all-state season as a junior and has been outstanding in goal for the Crimson. She was a member of Team USA’s U18 team where they took home the bronze medal. She is a two-time state tournament participant, two-time all-conference player and serves as one of the team’s captains. She has 53 career wins and is in her third year as the team’s starter, averaging a .942 save percentage in her career with 21 shutouts.

Strom will Continue her hockey career at St. Thomas.

“Dani is the best goalie I have ever seen play the position. She is so square to the puck and is an unreal competitor every day. Our schedule is a top five SOS every year everything she gets she earns. Dani gives us an opportunity to win every night she is in goal, the kids have so much confidence in her and what I am really proud of what a mentor she has become to our younger goalies. They tell me it is like having a goalie coach there everyday.” – Head Coach Jim Koltes

GRACE ZHAN – HILL-MURRAY

Grace Zhan Hill-Murray

GP: 25

Minutes: 1167:53

W-L-T: 21-3-1

SOG: 570

Saves: 540

GAA: 1.31

SV %: .947

SHO: 6

Zhan has put together an impressive career while leading Hill-Murray to t. In her fourth year as a state No. 2 spot in the rankings this season and at time No. 1. Zhan has 22 shutouts in her career, has finished with a save percentage of .940 or better in three of her four seasons, and has earned all-state twice. This season she has posted an impressive 1.31 goals against average and .947 save percentage.

She has played in 81 games for the Pioneers and has a career record of 62-16-3.

Zhan is committed to play college hockey at Dartmouth.

“Grace is an amazing teammate and a terrific goalie. Her individual stats could be even gaudier this year if she stayed in games that have been decided. Almost 25% of the games she starts she doesn’t finish. When she is pulled from a game she leaves the ice with a smile and cheers her teammates on from the bench. She is a great teammate.” – Head Coach Krissy Pohl.