Finalists for the 2014 Wisconsin high school American Family Insurance WHCA Player of the Year award have been announced, and Wisconsin recruit Matt Berkovitz is one of eight players to make the final cut.
After an initial list of 28 players, voters from the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association narrowed the list to eight players this week. The eight finalists will be honored at an awards banquet on Wednesday, March 5, the night before the Wisconsin state tournament begins.
Berkovitz, a defenseman for Ashwaubenon high school, was the only blueliner to make the cut. Other finalists include Mason Appleton (Notre Dame Academy), Jake Bresser (Eau Claire Memorial), Zed Dietrich (Waukesha), Brett Gruber (Notre Dame Academy), Charlie Parker (Verona), Caleb Schroer (Wisconsin Rapids) and Michael Wilson (Fond du Lac).
In 23 games this season for the Jaguars, Berkovitz has notched 11 goals and 26 assists for 37 points. Berkovitz has 10 penalty minutes on the season and is a +16 for the year.
Ashwaubenon is 15-7-1 this season, and is the No. 3 seed in Section 5. The Jaguars will host the winner of Manitowac Lincoln co-op and DePere/West DePere in a regional final on Feb. 20. The top two seeds in the section are Notre Dame Academy (No. 1) and Bayport (No. 2).
Overall, the coaches did a nice job with the voting. One omission would be Notre Dame Academy's Luke Davison -- the brother of Wisconsin freshman, Tim. That's not entirely surprising though, given two of his teammates were already named in the final eight. Other than that, I have a tough time arguing anyone that's on the list should be taken out.
If you're looking for a favorite to win the award, that's tough to say. While the coaches have hit the nail on the head a number of times, there have been years where the best player hasn't won for a variety of reasons.
Berkovitz is clearly the best defenseman in the state and Wilson is the most talented forward. The problem for Wilson is that his point total isn't as high as many of the other finalists. If the coaches vote based strictly on the best player, one of those two should win.
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