Ava Lindsay of Minnetonka is the girls hockey Metro Player of the Year
Minnetonka standout hockey forward Ava Lindsay starts her day with words to live by passed down from her father and his father.
Do something right, or don't do anything at all.
Written on a sticky note attached to her mirror, those words set Lindsay's intentions anew each day. She is the centerpiece of Minnetonka, the No. 1 team in Class 2A and the top seed for this week's state tournament. The Skippers' mission is clear: Get back to the title game and win after taking second last season.
Finishing the job won't be easy, and Lindsay isn't afraid to hold her talented teammates, eight of whom are committed to Division I college programs, accountable. But Lindsay, who signed with the Gophers, doesn't berate other Skippers at practice. A tap with her stick on their shin pads, followed by a few quiet words away from the crowd, gets her message across. So does her tireless effort on and off the ice.
"She is a humble leader who is loved and respected by our entire team," Minnetonka coach Tracy Cassano said.
Lindsay leads the Skippers with 23 goals despite missing four games to play with Team USA in the Under-18 Women's World Championship for a second consecutive year.
She is the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.
Current Eden Prairie girls hockey coach Steve Persian directed Breck's program for a portion of Lindsay's time with the Mustangs. She played at the Golden Valley school from seventh grade through her sophomore season. Facing Lindsay this season only impressed Persian more. He praised her consistently great performances, which stem from hard work and her competitive focus.
Lindsay won three consecutive Class 1A titles at Breck, two under Persian and all three with older sister Sadie. Like Ava, Sadie also wrote the family credo on a sticky note and attached it to her mirror.
"It applies to school, friendships and family — not just hockey," said Sadie, a sophomore on the Gophers women's hockey team. Her grandfather, Bill Lindsay — a Winnipeg, Manitoba, native and later a distinguished heart surgeon at the University of Minnesota — lived those words daily and implored son J. to do likewise. The message also connected with Ava and Sadie.
The sisters, two of six Lindsay siblings, spent many hours on the backyard pond battling through 1-on-1 "tournament" games. First player to five goals won. Sadie joked she "went easier" on her younger sister and fiercest rival. Even back then, however, Ava developed a pattern current teammates would recognize.
"She always held me to my best standard," Sadie said. "She was wise beyond her years."
Lindsay brought the same intangibles to her Team USA experiences. Though her team managed only a bronze medal in the Under-18 Women's World Championship after taking silver a year ago, Lindsay emerged as the emotional leader.
"It was my second year on that team, so I tried to be a good example for the younger girls," Lindsay said. "I tried to keep it lighthearted and fun and remind everyone we were having an awesome experience."
Don't mistake her perspective for acceptance. She is a winner and does whatever asked to help her team accomplish its goal. Cassano points out Lindsay takes the most shots but also makes the most passes. Coming into this week's state tournament, Lindsay has career numbers of 98 goals and 139 assists. She lets her keen hockey sense guide decisions.
"Sometimes I'll hear, 'You need to shoot the puck more,'" Lindsay said. "And yes, I might have an open shot, but my teammate might have an even better shot. We've got a lot of good players, but I want to make them better."