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Hill-Murray goaltender Grace Zhan ready for her shot at state tournament

Hill-Murray girls hockey team returns to state competition
Hill-Murray girls hockey team returns to state competition 01:44

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. The Hill-Murray School's girls' hockey team is back at state after a three-year drought.

A huge reason they could win it all is one of the state's elite goaltenders: Grace Zhan.

"She's really good," said Hill-Murray co-head coach Johnny Pohl. "Her angles, her rebound control, her demeanor, her crease presence. She has it all."

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Zhan is from Beijing, China. It's a big place with a small hockey culture.

"My first rink was a commercial rink on the fourth floor of this mall that we had," said Zhan.

In eighth grade, Zhan and her mom packed up and moved halfway around the world. Choosing a destination was simple.  

Grace Zhan WCCO

"This is where girls' hockey and women's hockey is the biggest in the entire world," said Zhan, who will play for Dartmouth next year. "It's such a pleasure to like meet these people and then just like experience something I've never experienced before, because before moving here I played with boys my entire life."

Zhan had always planned to move to the United States for college. She studied English since she was a toddler. But this was a shock for sure.

"First of all, there's a lot less people (laughs)!" said Zhan, remembering the culture shock she experienced. "There's a lot less people, there's a lot less cars. There's no traffic, which is awesome."

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Because of the pandemic in 2020, Zhan's dad had not been able to visit since she moved, until last week. He witnessed a close section final where Hill-Murray was losing to start, but came back to win and clinch their spot in the state tournament.

"At the Stillwater game we were down I think 0-1 in like the first for like quite a while, and then I looked at him, he gave me a thumbs up, and then it's such like a warm feeling for me because I grew up kind of like having him by my side," said Zhan.

A well-timed reunion for a much-anticipated state tournament.

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