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Comet Tales: Alex Friesen Finishes Strong

(Comets Photo by Lindsay A. Mogle)

Alex Friesen finished the year on a torrid pace. Through the final 12 games he played at a point-per-game pace, netting four goals, and eight assists.

During a conversation that took place after the Comets trip to Cleveland to take on the Lake Erie Monsters, the St. Catherines, Ontario native spoke of the Comets “one game at a time” mentality during the final weeks of the season. According to the Comets’ center, nothing was out of the ordinary during the bus ride home from Cleveland, after Friday’s second game in as many days in Quicken Loans Arena. Everyone was already focused on the game that was less than 48 hours away in Glens Falls.

“It was a tough game. We (Comets) knew our playoff hopes were on the line,” said Friesen, of Friday’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Monsters. “It was quiet (on the bus). Obviously, we know the situation that we are in. So far, we have two out of three games.”

Like all of his teammates, Friesen was quick to spread credit for the Comets’ point surge which at the time had reached 75 points. Goaltending has been stellar for Utica. On Thursday in Cleveland, regular starter Joacim Eriksson was given the evening off in favor of the equally capable Joe Cannata. The three-year product of Merrimack College finished with a 11-11-1-1 record.

“He (Cannata) was awesome,” Friesen told. “Joe motivates us to play well for him. It’s a comforting fact that we had two goalies that can win for us.”

Turning the conversation back to Friesen, he said he was pleased to have seen progression with his performance as the inaugural season wound down. When pressed for a self-assessment of his ice time with first-year coach Travis Green, Friesen labels it “pretty good”.

“I’ve made strides. There were some bumps in the road, some spells that I wasn’t happy with my game ” Friesen divulged. “The past month I’m pleased with. Every year you want to improve, making stepping stones from minors, to juniors, to pro. It’s taken me a little bit of time to get my feet wet.”

In the 54 games Friesen skated in for the Comets, he recorded 20 points (6 goals 14 assists). After his five seasons in the OHL with the Niagara Falls (ONT) IceDogs, making gains in his game within the Vancouver Canucks system appears a given.

From season one with the IceDogs, where Friesen tallied 14 points, to his final season with the team racking up 71 points, he has proven to be an offensive machine that improves with age. While with the IceDogs, Friesen did something very few players on the junior’s level get the opportunity to – live at home. With the drive from St. Catherines to Niagara Falls being less than 20 minutes, Alex took advantage of his situation.

“We (Niagara Falls) had some good teams with great players. You really don’t understand the success until later on,” Friesen explains.

Success and great are accurate terms when reviewing the roster’s which Friesen was part of during his OHL time in Niagara Falls. Ryan Strome, Alex Pietrangelo, Dougie Hamilton, and Darren Archibald were among those rosters.

For the coming off-season, Friesen doesn’t plan on breaking tradition. Along with training for a third professional season of hockey, the sixth round draft pick of Vancouver in 2010 will be helping out with his family’s winery in Niagara-0n-the-Lake,Ontario.

In reviewing his experiences in the Utica area this season, Friesen has been comfortable. Playing in The AUD, the crowd experience, reminds Alex of the Jack Gatecliff Arena, the IceDogs home arena. ” The crowds are awesome. It has been a great experience in Utica.”