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South Jordan Journal

JDCHS hockey player shares joy of MVP award with team

Mar 09, 2023 10:36AM ● By Catherine Garrett

Juan Diego Catholic High School sophomore Wyatt Hanna was named Most Valuable Player in the Utah High School Hockey League this season. (Photos courtesy Destony Hanna)

The Juan Diego Catholic High School hockey team now lays claim to its first ever award for the Utah High School Hockey League Most Valuable Player. And, in even better news for the program, South Jordan’s Wyatt Hanna is just a sophomore.

“This is a great honor for Wyatt, but also for our team. It’s a simply amazing accomplishment,” said JDCHS head coach Moe van der Sluys. “He has risen in the ranks of scoring in the entire state of Utah and has 10 more goals than the second-place player. He’s an exceptional talent and not only plays forward, but defense when called upon.”

His mom, Destony Hanna, said she is extremely proud of her 16-year-old son who leads the league in goals scored and game-winning goals and is second in total points. “He deserved it and had a lot of fun out there, but I’m almost more excited for the school to be honored,” she said.

Wyatt was informed of the honor by his teammates as he came out of a January practice. “I wasn’t expecting to be named MVP, but I was super happy and I was really glad to share that news and excitement with my teammates because I wouldn’t be here without them,” he said.

Wyatt started playing hockey when he was just 3 years old, following in his father Brian’s footsteps. “We put skates on him and sent him on his way,” Destony Hanna said. “It came pretty naturally for him with it in his genes and he loved being on the ice.”

The sophomore is also athletically gifted in other sports and played football and baseball for several years—he still plays on the diamond for the Soaring Eagle team—but he is “all in” when it comes to hockey.

“I do like to play a lot of different sports, but it was fun to see how much my dad loved to watch me play hockey out of all the other sports I was playing. That’s a fun connection we have always had,” Wyatt said.

He has been playing on the Wasatch Renegades, a Tier 1 AAA team, the past four years which keeps him extremely active nearly every day of the week whether it’s with practices, working out or playing in games. 

“Hockey is literally a whole week event for Wyatt, but it’s his favorite sport in the whole world,” Destony Hanna said. “He would never quit. In fact, if you ask what he wants to do, it’s either play hockey or work for ESPN.”

On the Juan Diego team this season, he has led the Soaring Eagle squad to a 14-3 record during the regular season among the nearly 30 teams statewide. 

“We have one of the smallest numbers with just 14 players but we have a lot of very talented players,” said van der Sluys.

“We’ve been doing really good and we’re winning a ton of games,” Wyatt said.

After a first-round bye in the state playoffs, Juan Diego defeated Herriman 4-2 Feb. 6—with Wyatt scoring two goals—to reach a quarterfinal matchup with Park City Feb. 10 that they also won 2-1 in an overtime shootout that went to the 10th round.

They lost to Brighton 10-1 Feb. 13 in the semifinals and was scheduled to play Feb. 21 in the double-elimination playoffs. 

Wyatt said he’s grateful for what hockey has meant to him and what he’s been learning along the way. “It’s taught me to be kind and respect those older than you,” he said. “But, it’s also helped me be fun and have fun while continuing to grow.”

Destony Hanna said that hockey has instilled confidence in her son along with other life lessons. 

“He knows how to take wins and losses,” she said. “And, he’s also learned how to be a team player.”

Wyatt said his dad has been a huge mentor for him as well as his coaches who have been “so good and supportive.” 

Wyatt will be recognized with a plaque and a gift card for his MVP award during intermission of the UHSHL All-Star Game on March 8 at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex. His name will also be engraved on the perpetual trophy that is permanently housed at the South Davis Recreation Center.

The sophomore, who has his sights set on playing in college, will be taking further steps that way at an “invite only” juniors camp this summer in Chicago.