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Harper Searles on High School Hockey: “I Wouldn’t Trade it for Anything”

By Drew Herron, 02/20/24, 9:30AM CST


Image Courtesy of Legacy Hockey

Centennial senior Harper Searles is having a banner season for the Cougars. The forward and gifted playmaker has passed 150 career points and tied a state record for most points in a game (9) with a three-goal and six-assist outburst in a 9-1 win in early January.

After starting — and scoring — this fall in the North American Hockey League with the Minnesota Wilderness, Searles chose to return to Centennial for his senior year to continue his development, represent his community, and make lifelong memories with his best friends.

Minnesota Hockey: How has the season been going?

Harper Searles: It’s been awesome. Everyone on the team is excited about how we’ve been playing, and since Christmas Break, we’ve been playing really good hockey, with all 20 guys contributing. We’re going to need that going down the stretch, and it’s really fun to be a part of.

Minnesota Hockey: You have 10 seniors on the team, is this a tight-knit group that’s been playing together a long time?

Searles: Yeah, for sure, and how close we are is translating onto the ice. It’s so much fun to play with the same group of buddies you played with growing up.

We hang out every day. At the rink, in the locker room, or at someone’s house. That’s the best part about high school hockey: being able to spend time every day with your friends, who you are super close with.

Minnesota Hockey: You had opportunities to play juniors, but you chose to come back for your senior year. What went into that?

Searles: It’s hard not to come back. Playing with the Wilderness was super fun and a great experience, but I really wanted to come back to play high school hockey with my buddies, who I grew up with and have played with for a long time. Also, I get to play with my brother this year, and I’ve never played with him before on a hockey team. That was a driving factor as well. I am super glad I came back for this.

Minnesota Hockey: What makes High School Hockey in Minnesota so unique?

Searles: Being with your friends — that’s the best part of this. I don’t know if people understand how cool that is. We hang out every single day, after games and after practices, and sometimes we will be in the locker room an hour after practice ends, just enjoying it.

Minnesota Hockey: Your team has a legitimate shot at breaking through to the State Tournament.

Searles: It’s always in the back of your mind…that possibility. But now, with the way we have been playing this year, that prospect becomes super exciting. We just need to keep it up.

Minnesota Hockey: Playing home games at Centennial Sports Arena in front of classmates, friends and family…what is that like?

Searles: It’s awesome. Playing for your school is an amazing experience, and seeing how the community shows up is pretty moving. Seeing kids who I go to class with come to support us and cheer us on is amazing. And seeing the younger kids show up and the enthusiasm they bring, and how bad they want to be a part of it, it’s motivating for sure.

Minnesota Hockey: What about those younger players that show up, the Mites, Squirts, and Peewees? Does it make you feel an obligation to set the direction for Centennial Hockey and keep it going strong?

Searles: Oh, for sure. When those younger kids show up to support us, give us knucks, or maybe ask us for an autograph, it’s super cool, but it’s also a responsibility to lead by example and show them the way. It’s a special opportunity.

Minnesota Hockey: What is the best part of playing high school hockey in Minnesota?

Searles: Playing with your buddies and representing your school. You grow up with these guys, and we see each other develop. To experience this with them — the games, the practices, hanging out and celebrating a win — is special. To go through an entire season and share that experience with your good friends is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.