Red Wing's Fairbanks receives Herb Brooks Award

SAINT PAUL — Red Wing senior forward Cori Fairbanks was named the Class A recipient of the Herb Brooks Award last weekend. The honor is given to two players at the state hockey tournament — one in each class — who best represent the "values, characteristics, and traits that defined Herb Brooks," according to the Minnesota State High School League website.

Fairbanks was a tireless forechecker for the Wingers, who finished fourth, but the special recognition was most noteworthy because she was even skating at all.

As a sophomore, Fairbanks was checked from behind by a Farmington player and crashed head first into the boards at Prairie Island Arena in Red Wing — a scene similar to what took place this season with Benilde-St. Margaret's Jack Jablonski that prompted a rule change by the MSHSL.

While Jablonski was paralyzed in his incident, Fairbanks' proved to be "just" a medical scare that required many months of intensive physical therapy to resume normal everyday activities; she broke two bones in her neck, fractured her ribs and missed weeks of school as she recovered.

"It brought back a lot of memories," Fairbanks said of the media rush to cover Jablonski's injury; she also wrote a note of encouragement on his CaringBridge website.


When the 2010-11 hockey season started, Red Wing's former three-sport athlete decided not to play. She was medically cleared to do so, but hesitant to put herself at risk again. That changed a few weeks into the hockey season when teammates convinced her to rejoin the squad.

Red Wing's roster boasts three of the top scorers in Minnesota, including University of Minnesota recruit Paige Haley, but Fairbanks' grit and determination have proved invaluable since she rejoined the lineup. The Wingers qualified for state each of the past two years and, in a twist that her teammates especially enjoyed, they defeated Farmington — the team that checked Fairbanks — for the first time in program history. And they did it twice, sweeping the season series.

Fairbanks, who will not play collegiately, finished the season with 11 goals and seven assists.

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