Freeport rolls into Penguins Cup Playoffs on hot streak
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Freeport had a dominant February, finishing the month 5-2 while tallying 42 goals.
The Yellowjackets are swarming into the Penguins Cup playoffs, which begin Monday, ending the regular season 14-5-2.
A big reason for the team's success in February was the dynamic play of Cole Hepler, a senior forward, and junior forward Michael Frazetta. They can be seen on the team's top line together with Frazetta dishing out assists, while Hepler fires blistering shots on goal and seemingly scores at will.
The duo combined for 29 points, including 16 of the teams 42 goals, in February. Hepler had 10 goals and six assists while Frazetta scored six goals and added seven assists.
Sophomore winger Nick Rusak, also is a threat on the top line, having chipped in one goal and four assists in February.
“The reason Mickey plays on a line with Cole is they play well together and aren't afraid to get the puck to each other, along with Nick Rusack,” Freeport coach Dave Hepler said. “They all can skate well, and they are the ones that can keep up with Cole and play well as a unit.”
Frazetta has registered career highs in goals (nine) and assists (25) for Freeport, which won 13 of its final 15 games.
“From this year and last year, I've really tried to improve in all aspects of my game,” Frazetta said. “Last year, I was a freshman on a line with Greg Newman and Cole Hepler, and I really relied on those two and did the best I could with them.
“As a line this year, all three of us have created chemistry with each other, and things are working out well for us. We mainly try to haul it up the ice and move the puck quickly and get in the right positions to get open for each other.”
It seems only right that Freeport has hit its stride leading into the playoffs.
“I think we're playing with confidence, and we're playing better as a team,” Hepler said. “We're playing a team game. It doesn't matter who scores. We have a couple girls on the team, and everyone accepts them as good players.”
One of those girls is goalie Katie Hill. She is blemish-free in the loss column as she leads Freeport with a seven wins, two of those coming in February, including an 8-0 shutout against Serra Catholic.
Freeport has the luxury of having three talented goalies. Alongside Hill are Matt Huston and Dominic DiGiacobbe, with all three chipping in to the team's success.
When it comes to playoff hockey, it often is said that playing shutdown defense is more essential than trying to be a high-scoring offense.
Hepler looks at it as needing a good mix of both, but he emphasizes solid defensive play from not only his defensemen and goalies, but from his forwards on the back check.
“Goaltending is always important, but the key is good defense,” Hepler said.
D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.