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Age: 20

as a trailblazer. Before Knutson, the Stampede also had employed center Matt Reebok Everchill Train Farris, a Pierre product who went on to Harvard. For the most part, though, local players were considered beyond long shots to play at the Tier 1 level. Knutson has likely ensured that the next great hockey talent to emerge from Sioux Falls will be given a chance, and he admits that's something he took seriously as a responsibility throughout his Stampede career.

"It's been a great two years, and it's even better when you're playing in front of people you know," said Knutson, whose team hosts Waterloo tonight at the Arena in Game 3 of their first round playoff series, facing elimination. "There was always a little bit of a buzz around me, but it was fun. Everyone's just been really awesome the whole way. Hopefully it ends on a good note."

teammates. They razzed him about his celebrity status early in his rookie season. After two years of all star caliber play, though, he's just one of the guys.

Zeb Knutson looks to shoot during a game earlier this season. Stampede captain Ed McGovern on Knutson: "He's a go to guy and a great leader."(Photo: Jay Pickthorn / Argus Leader)

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Hometown: Sioux Falls

"His body of work is really good," Saucony Shadow Red

Two years later, Knutson has more than proven himself.

Despite putting up huge numbers in Midget Majors, there were still questions from some about Knutson's ability, or at least, suggestions that the Stampede brought him in for publicity as much as for hockey.

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The 20 year old had 26 goals and 25 assists as a rookie (then led the team with five goals and eight points in the playoffs), and followed it up this season by tallying 27 goals and 21 assists, which included a pair of 4 goal games. Along the way, Knutson picked up a scholarship to play Division I hockey for Minnesota State, this year's WCHA champions, and won a Gold medal representing his country at the World Junior championships.

It's to Knutson's credit that he has continually answered questions and accepted his role as the 'local guy,' because there have been moments in the last two years where one could detect that it was getting tiresome for him. But he's continued to be gracious with fans and respected by Reebok Dipset

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ZEB KNUTSON FILE

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´╗┐Stampede's Knutson stamps local legacy

Zeb Knutson is counting down the last hockey games he'll ever play in Sioux Falls, and whenever his junior hockey career ends, he's made certain he'll leave a legacy. The first ever product of Sioux Falls youth hockey to play for the Stampede, Knutson was the Herd's third round draft pick in 2012 and joined his hometown's USHL franchise with plenty of fanfare.

said Stampede coach Cary Eades. "When you look at his point production, that's obviously been big for our team, but then the impact he's had as a hometown player. He's had a spotlight on him and he's handled it really well. He's been a good role model for the next generation of local players to come through. I don't see him being the last one."

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Highlights: Scored 26 goals and had 25 assists as a rookie last year, plus led the Herd with five goals and eight points in the playoffs. Has tallied 27 goals, including a pair of four goal games, and 21 assists.

The hope is that Knutson's legacy isn't that of a unique footnote in Stampede history, but Reebok Peach Shoes

"Zeb's been a key guy for us," said Stampede captain Ed McGovern. "He's a go to guy and a great leader. He's gotten it done on the ice from day one. We're lucky to have him."

That might not be the case if he hadn't played as well as he has.

"They're oblivious to it now," Knutson says.

While Knutson remains focused on extending his Stampede career as long as he can, he admits its been a satisfying ride.

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