Gabbie Hughes celebrating a goal against Bemidji State University. Photo Credit: John Swartz(BSU). Hughes was awarded a 2023 Hockey Humanitarian Award for her impactful work with Sophie’s Squad.

TAMPA, Fla. – After being a two-time top-three finalist, Minnesota Duluth’s Gabbie Hughes has been honored with the 2023 Hockey Humanitarian Award for her impactful work with Sophie’s Squad.

In the award’s 28th season, the Hockey Humanitarian Award is presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen – a student-athlete that makes significant contributions not only to his or her team but also to the community at large through leadership in volunteerism.

Dating back to 1996, Hughes becomes the WCHA’s third Hockey Humanitarian Award honoree all-time joining Wisconsin’s Brittany Ammerman in 2015 and Minnesota’s Sidney Peters in 2018.

One of only three players in NCAA Division I women’s hockey history to be named both a Patty Kazmaier Top-3 Finalist and a Hockey Humanitarian Finalist last season, Hughes led Minnesota Duluth this season with 46 points by 10 goals and 36 assists through her 38 games played and became the program’s fifth all-time leading scorer.

Hughes is the first player in Bulldog program history to be named a finalist in back-to-back years and is a co-founder of the nonprofit Sophie’s Squad, an organization dedicated to improving the mental health of athletes from the youth level to college by raising awareness of mental health issues and removing the stigma associated with getting help. Sophie’s Squad has raised more than $277,000, and while the $50,000 donation to Children’s Minnesota is by far the organization’s largest single donation, a majority of funds raised by Sophie’s Squad events goes back into awareness events, providing educational resources and materials, as well as merchandise to student-athletes participating in the events.

Sophie’s Squad has held more than 39 different events and Hughes, who was part of the inception and creation of Sophie’s Squad, is actively involved as a keynote speaker, and event coordinator, and manages the organization’s social media accounts. A co-founder, ambassador, committee member, social media director, and volunteer are all roles Hughes has taken on in the last 18 months. This past December, Hughes worked with Minnesota Duluth athletics and Sophie’s Squad to create the first-ever collegiate doubleheader Sophie’s Squad event. A Hockey Hits Back game for mental health awareness, that day at AMSOIL Arena raised more than $9,000 to help bring the conversation of mental health to the forefront.

As a captain for Minnesota Duluth, Hughes has been a three-time WCHA All-Academic Team member in her career and was a two-time WCHA Forward of the Week this season.