Local products Frederick, Lewis lead young Clarkson squad
Will Frederick gained more than a driving partner when Greg Lewis decided to attend Clarkson University in the fall.
The junior winger added a quality teammate and one of college hockey's top young goaltenders.
“I didn't know Greg before he came up here, but it's good having him here,” Frederick said. “It's nice to have a driving partner when we come home for break. He's been great on and off the ice. He's really helping the team.
“Last year, we had one of the top goalies in the country. There was an open door to see who would be the starter. At first, I am not sure Greg was the front-runner. But, he got his opportunity and seized it and never looked back. He's been really strong for us.”
The two Pittsburgh natives have been key players for the Golden Knights. Frederick of Allison Park is one of the team's top scorers, while Lewis of Mars is the team's starting goaltender.
They are part of a young Clarkson team that features 10 freshmen and only four seniors. The lack of experience has hurt the Golden Knights, who were 5-13-6 through their first 24 games.
Their 4-6-2 conference mark put them in the middle of the ECAC standings with a chance to climb up to grab a top-four spot and a first-round tournament bye. All ECAC teams make the conference tournament.
“Not to look ahead, because we have a good team this year, but we're just in a rut right now and we just need to get out of it,” Lewis said. “In ECAC play we've been doing well. The rest of our games are league games, so if we can turn it around and make a jump, we could get that bye.”
A bye would give the team a chance to rest up and prepare for a postseason run.
“That's a goal of ours every year. Last year, heading into the final weekend, we were in fourth place and needed to win one of two games to secure it, and we didn't,” Frederick said. “It was disappointing. A first-round bye helps out a lot. It's pretty grueling and tiring on the body to make a playoff push. It's within our grasp at this point.”
Lewis, who spent last season with the Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL, wasted little time claiming Clarkson's starting job between the pipes. He had a 2.78 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in his first 22 games.
“It's been great. It's way different. Guys are bigger, stronger and faster. It's just another jump,” he said. “It was a little hard to adjust at the beginning. Over the course of being up here, it's been getting smoother as time has been going. I am just happy to be here.”
Frederick, a right wing, has taken on a new role this year as a top-six forward. He had 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 24 games.
“Last year, I played a much more defensive role. I played on a line with two seniors and we focused on shutting down teams' top lines,” he said. “The coaches are looking for me to have more offensive production this year. So far, it's been pretty good. I have been able to make that step. I am happy to make the change.
“Basically, the best way to put it is I am a power forward. I like to play in the corners and play physical hockey. I go in front of the net. A lot of my goals have been on rebounds. I try to drive back defensemen and open up room for the other more skilled guys. I like the physical aspect of the game. I'll do whatever to help the team win.”
The Golden Knights just hope they can mount a late-season charge.
“In our league standings, we're in the mix of things. It's just going to be a one-game weekend every weekend,” Lewis said. “We're a younger team, but we're skilled. The guys in front of me really help me. They make my job easier.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.