Jason Fredricks is technically not a rookie, but the defenseman didn’t look like he was completely adjusted to ECHL play when he arrived in a January 11 trade with the Utah Grizzlies.
The 23-year-old from Eagle River, Wisconsin started out as a third-pair defenseman and by the end of the season had worked his way up to a shutdown-pair role with Shawn Germain. He started to gain confidence in his skating ability, drew the attention of opposing defenses, and was responsible enough in his own end to be a plus-3 over his final 15 games.
If you’re looking for bright spots on the player-development side of things, you can start with Fredricks. Here’s what he said this morning:
How do you view your time here?
It was a lot of fun. I made some really good friends here. Top to bottom it’s a great group of guys. We really started to mesh there. Once the wins started coming, I think it turned the tide for everyone mentally. It brought everyone close, closer as a group. It was a lot of fun to finish out the year even though we were on the wrong side of the playoff spots.
Do you think you could have made the playoffs with a few more games on the schedule?
We’ve been talking about stuff like that, wishing that our streak, our play could have been like that a little earlier in the season. We were probably playing our best hockey on the brink of elimination. Even past that time, after being eliminated, we were improving individually and as players in our team game, too.
For you individually, compare where you are now to when you arrived.
It’s been a good year, a good leaning year for me. I only played less than – less games last season than when I got traded here. My first full year I had pretty big learning curve. I felt like it got better as the year went on. Getting the ice time I got here, being around the people, the veteran defensemen, having coach Taylor … picking up a lot of things along the way and hopefully retain as much as I could, I think it made a difference.
Can your confidence carry over to next season?
I think it can. I think you, if you want it to roll over, I think it has to end on a good note. ‘You’re only as good as your last game.’ it holds pretty true. I think if you’re finishing over on a high note, it’s easier to carry over.
Can you envision yourself being back?
If we can keep the momentum going into next year, it could be a good year for a lot of us.
That would be ideal. Who knows what will happen on the Ontario Reign end, or on my end, but the way I see it right now I’d like to be back here.