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The Rise of Heise: From Try Hockey to Patty Kaz

By Kelsey Hanson, Special to Minnesota Hockey, 04/25/22, 3:15PM CDT


Gopher forward, Taylor Heise, just wrapped a knockout senior season. During the 39-game 2021-2022 campaign, she led the nation in points (66), tallied the second-most shots in a single season in Gopher program history, and came in second in the nation for goals scored (29).

Heise has no trouble finding the back of the net, and her playmaking for the Gophers earned her some hefty accolades this season including being named WCHA Player of the Year and 2022 Patty Kazmaier Award winner, given to the nation’s best player.

With all her success, it would be easy for Heise to only look ahead to what comes next, but instead, Heise takes a look to the past in appreciation of her youth hockey experience in Lake City and Red Wing. The community-based development in these two communities laid the foundation she was able to build her hockey career on.

Minnesota Hockey: How did you get your start playing hockey?

Taylor Heise: One of my friend’s dad put a newsletter in my backpack when I was in first grade about trying hockey for free. The Wild had actually donated some gear to Lake City, and that was the first gear that I had.

Minnesota Hockey: So, you got a newsletter advertising free hockey, and that’s how you got started?

Taylor Heise: Yeah, I asked my parents, ‘Do you think I can do this? I think it's gonna be fun.’ And they kind of laughed. They're like, ‘oh yeah, yeah, yeah,’ thinking, I'll forget about it the next day. And I asked for a week straight. Especially now I think how lucky I was that I got that letter in my backpack because I don't know where I'd be if I didn't.

Minnesota Hockey: What was your first hockey experience in Lake City like?

Taylor Heise:  When my parents said yes, I ended up starting my hockey career on an outdoor rink. There's a warming hut – I can picture it right now.  I go back when I'm at home in the winter to skate out there at least once because it brings back a lot of really nice memories.

We didn't have a goalie — we had two nets and just played five on five. The kicker was that we couldn’t play unless it was nice enough and someone had gotten up and shoveled off the rink. So really it was up in the air if we could play or not. But we'd practice once a week on Wednesdays, and then we'd play on Sundays.

We only played against one neighboring team — Wabasha. I did that for probably three years before I found Red Wing where I played the rest of my youth hockey career.

Minnesota Hockey: How did you end up playing for Red Wing?

Taylor Heise: A friend of my parents reached out about Red Wing’s youth hockey, so I started my 8U season there. I played the rest of my youth hockey career there, and I eventually open enrolled into that school district.

Minnesota Hockey: How did the community aspect of youth hockey affect you as you progressed through your hockey career?

Taylor Heise: Youth hockey in Minnesota has some sort of a grasp on me. I'm forever grateful for the opportunities that women and young girls in Minnesota have to pursue the sport of hockey and get a great education at an amazing high school or middle school.

Because of youth hockey, I really have two homes — Lake City and Red Wing. I have these two amazing communities that come out and support me even now when I play at the U.

As I got older, I had multiple chances to leave Red Wing to play for other teams, but I had a group of eight friends that I played with since 8U. Leaving them wasn’t an option. We made each other better, and we’re still all really close today.

Minnesota Hockey: Favorite youth hockey memories?

Taylor Heise: I remember going to Breezy Point, and even though it was winter, we would go outside and find the hot tub. Our coaches always told us no swimming in the pool before games, so we would make our parents stay after the tournament was over just so we could swim in the pool. I remember all my friends and I would be doing cannonballs, and we loved it.

Minnesota Hockey: Any youth coaches that you want to give a shout-out to?

Taylor Heise: My high school coaches Dan Anderson, Tony Casci, and Scott Haley had such a huge impact on my life. But I had so many other great coaches in Red Wing like Bob Oberding, Ryan Tix, Charlie Bryant, Jason Hart and Mike Doyle. And a big shout out to Joe White and Crystal Sorenson who got me into hockey way back in Lake City.

Minnesota Hockey: What’s your favorite way to take a break from hockey so that you’re fresh when the season comes around?

Taylor Heise: I love sitting outside by a fire and listening to music or just taking walks. I also love to bake and cook for the people in my house. They all know that I have a major sweet tooth.

Minnesota Hockey:  What elements of your game are you working to improve for next season?

Taylor Heise: I'm still reassessing the season as of right now, but for sure, I want to work on making quicker decisions and moving my feet out of the corners.

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