Bulldogs' Hughes, Patt nominated for Hockey Humanitarian Award
Minnesota Duluth senior center Gabbie Hughes has been bringing awareness to mental health issues facing youth and college athletes this season with her work on Sophie's Squad. Redshirt senior goaltender Ben Patt captained a Movember campaign this fall that raised over $11,000 for men's health issues, including one that is impacting a teammate this season.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth seniors Gabbie Hughes and Ben Patt have been nominated for the 2022 Hockey Humanitarian Award, an honor presented to what the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation calls “college hockey’s finest citizen.”
Hughes and Patt are among the 11 nominees, as is Minnesota State senior defenseman and Hermantown native Wyatt Aamodt . Finalists will be announced in February while the winner will be honored on April 9, 2022, during the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in Boston.
Hughes, a senior center on the Bulldogs women’s team, has brought awareness to mental health in youth and college athletics this season through her work with Sophie’s Squad — an organization she and her family helped found following the death of 14-year-old Sophie Wieland, by suicide over the summer.
Wieland was not only a player that Hughes and her father — Terry — coached, but a friend as well.
Hughes and her family recently held a Hockey Hits Back event at Amsoil Arena that raised $8,000 for Sophie’s Squad, which has been holding Hockey Hits Back events at Minnesota high schools this season to raise awareness for mental health issues.
“Just throughout all of this that has happened since the day we found out (Sophie) had passed, I think something changed in my heart and my head that I needed to do something about this,” Hughes said on the Bulldog Insider Podcast. “It’s so much more important than just the game.
“I love the game so much and I’m so passionate about it. I play my heart out every single game, but it’s just for a different reason now.”
On the ice, Hughes is leading the country in scoring with 1.82 points per game via the 14 goals and 26 assists she’s tallied in 22 games. She’s also tied with senior teammate Elizabeth Giguere for the national lead in assists per game at 1.18.
At Amsoil Arena, personalized videos are played every time a Bulldog records a point. They are also used in introductions and shared on social media as GIFs. Hughes' video this season is a tribute to Wieland, whose initials are showcased on Hughes' stick before the Bulldogs assistant captain points to the sky.
“I carry her sticker around with me everywhere and now I play for her,” Hughes said back in October, explaining her tribute. “A lot of the things I do, I live for her, so that she can see the true beauties of the world. I can show her what it's like to play college hockey while she's looking down on me. My GIF is just showing her and letting people know that's why I do what I do and why. When I score, I'm doing it for her this year.”
Patt, a redshirt senior goaltender for the Bulldogs men’s hockey team who finally got his first two starts as a Bulldog in December, has also tackled the issue of mental health this season, as well as other prominent men’s health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer.
Patt captained the Bulldogs’ annual Movember Foundation campaign in November, helping raise over $11,000 after initially setting a modest goal of $1,000. This year’s campaign took on a special significance to the team because one of their own, sophomore goaltender Zach Stejskal, has been battling testicular cancer.
Once Stejskal went public with his diagnosis in November, the donations came pouring in for the Bulldogs; and the mustaches, they were growing. The goal was upped to $5,000, $8,000 and finally $10,000 before the month ran out.
Patt, whose mustache also earned him the title of NCHC’s Best Movember Mustache for the second time in his college career, said he hopes his legacy at UMD is the team continuing raising funds for the Movember Foundation each and every season after he is gone.
“On the guys were on board and they all used their social media,” Patt said back in December on the Bulldog Insider Podcast. “Part of me wants to leave with these guys in their minds that we have the ability, using our social media and using our platform, to do some good and try to give back a little bit. This was the first great example of the power we do have to motivate and move some people, to give back to a charity and foundation like that.
“I’m super proud of the guys in the room and we all feel really good about it.”