All-Area Prep Girls Hockey Player of the Year: Fawcett set example for the Mirage

The Proctor-Hermantown girls hockey team usually practiced at night this winter, making for some long days, especially for players who lived out in the country like Reilly Fawcett.

Proctor-Hermantown senior Reilly Fawcett (left) controls the puck near Val Gooden of Hibbing during the Section 7A Final game in Cloquet. Fawcett was selected as the 2014 News Tribune player of the year. Clint Austin /

The Proctor-Hermantown girls hockey team usually practiced at night this winter, making for some long days, especially for players who lived out in the country like Reilly Fawcett.
Fawcett would have her skates off and stuff put away when she would be approached by younger girls wanting to skate with her on the outdoor rinks, “rink ratting” as it’s called.
No matter how tired she was, or how many other things she had to do, Fawcett never said no.
“That’s just who Reilly is,” Mirage coach Glen Gilderman said. “That sums her up right there. She loves playing hockey and worked really hard to get the skills, but she also believed in giving back.”
Fawcett, the 2014 News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year for girls hockey , set the example for Proctor-Hermantown, and the result was the second state tournament appearance in program history. The Mirage didn’t get the state championship they wanted, but finishing the season with a victory in the fifth-place game wasn’t a bad consolation.
“I never would have thought of anything like this, so yeah, I was surprised,” Fawcett said of learning she was named News Tribune player of the year. “But I’m not really surprised by how well we did. After we lost in the section championship last year, we had been focusing on getting to the state tournament all summer. We worked really hard for it.”
Fawcett, a Proctor senior, was a News Tribune first-team selection last year. She led Northeastern Minnesota with 32 goals and 35 assists for 67 points this winter. Together, along with sophomore Sophie McGovern and junior Jillayne Gilbert, they formed the Northland’s highest-scoring line, accounting for 86 of the team’s 116 goals, or 74 percent.
“Those three like to move the puck and share the puck,” Gilderman said. “There were times this year where they would share the puck too much. When they were on, when it just came natural, we were tough to beat.”
Fawcett’s impact went beyond the ice. She has a 3.8 grade-point average and already will have earned 13 college credits before she even steps foot on campus next fall at Bemidji State, where she has signed a letter of intent to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Beavers.
For her efforts, Fawcett was the Class A recipient of the Herb Brooks Award for best demonstrating the values, characteristics and traits that defined the legendary coach.
“That was a capstone for Reilly,” Gilderman said. “The thing about Reilly is that she’s not just a great hockey player. She’s a great kid, too. Everybody on the team looked up to her.”
Fawcett, along with teammate Hannah Johnson, are in Arizona visiting Fawcett’s grandparents, Lee and Marilyn Fawcett, for spring break. After being delayed about four hours on the flight from Duluth, they finally made it out to Mesa on Thursday.
“We’re just trying to soak up the sun, the same one that’s not in Minnesota right now,” Fawcett said, laughing. “My grandparents only stay in Arizona for a month. They don’t like to miss my hockey.”
One thing Fawcett already misses is hockey. Outside of winter, she doesn’t get to see her Hermantown hockey friends as much. The three-sport standout plans on focusing this spring on softball, where she is a Rails shortstop, before turning her attention back to hockey in the summer as she prepares for Bemidji State.
“I miss hockey, but I miss the people more than the actual game,” Fawcett said. “We all get along super. We’re pretty much like family.”
Fawcett grew up in Pike Lake and honed her skills on the outdoor rinks in Twig. Her family moved to a lake home in Alborn two years ago, making her commute to Proctor even longer, nearly 40 minutes.
“I get up at 6:30 a.m., then I go to school, then I work out, then I play softball, and then I’m just drained,” Fawcett said. “I don’t go to bed till 11 p.m. Those days can get long, but it’s worth it.”
Even after all of that, she still skates in the spring, and if there are younger players around, you can bet she will stick around even longer.
Sometimes her cousins, Hermantown sisters Kaitlyn, 13, and Hailey Fawcett, 12, ask her to skate with them, but other times, Fawcett hardly knows who the younger girls are.
But she still does it.
“You really can’t say no to those kids,” Fawcett said. “That is one of the things that I really like to do, is skate with them. I try to teach them a couple things and hope that they can see my dedication to the game and learn from that. I have fun with them, and it reminds me a lot about what hockey has given to me, and giving back means a lot to me.”

Year    Player        School
2014    Reilly Fawcett    Proctor-Hermantown
2013    Carley Esse    Cloquet-Esko-Carlton
2012    Molly Illikainen    Grand Rapids-Greenway
2011    Amanda Arbogast    Eveleth-Gilbert Area
2010    Julia Gilbert    Proctor-Herm.-Marshall
2009    Laura Bellamy    Duluth
2008    Emily Erickson    Grand Rapids-Greenway
2007    Emily Erickson    Grand Rapids-Greenway
2006    Michelle Maunu    Cloquet-Esko-Carlton
2005    Johanna Ellison    Cloquet-Esko-Carlton
2004    Johanna Ellison    Cloquet-Esko-Carlton
2003    Andrea Nichols    Hibbing-Chisholm
2002    Andrea Nichols    Hibbing-Chisholm
2001    Andrea Nichols    Hibbing-Chisholm

Reilly Fawcett

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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