After turning in the best season by a goaltender in the United States National Team Development Program’s nine-year history, New Jersey Devils prospect Jeff Frazee has since moved into the NCAA with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Frazee, who brought his U.S. NTDP best .932 save percentage and 2.13 goals against average with him to Minnesota, is plying his trade on an already loaded Gophers squad. While his current stats are around the middle of the pack among Division I netminders, Frazee looks to help spark a team who could take the nation by storm.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Frazee from Magness Arena, home of the Denver Pioneers where helped backstop the Gophers during a 4-3 stunning come from behind win. He spoke about his past season, starting his NCAA career with Minnesota, as well as what he is working on.
HF: Can you talk about your experience in the U.S. NTDP?
JF: It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun. On an average day, we would leave school at 1:20, practice started at 2:30 and we would go for about two hours. We would lift after practice and get out of there at 6:30. It was a lot of work and it took a lot of discipline. It really helped me develop my game both mentally and physically.
HF: Looking back, how much do you think it has helped you be prepared for this season with the Gophers?
JF: It helped a lot. From my perspective, I was able to get used to the releases and shots at this level. On the NTDP team, you’re seeing a lot of action because you’re the underdog more times than not.
HF: Not only did you see competition against NCAA teams, but you were able to play at the international level too. Did a combination of the styles give you an advantage?
JF: I feel the college game helped me out the most. It’s the exact same game, with the same players.
HF: Talk about wanting to join Minnesota. Was it something you had planned for quite some time?
JF: Oh yeah. Having grown up in Minnesota, it’s always been a dream of mine.
HF: Can you talk about your incoming class and how special you all are?
JF: They’re all great guys. We all work so hard both on and off the ice. It’s been a great experience so far.
HF: Are any of you guys bummed that Peter Mueller decided to go the junior route?
JF: It was his decision. It would have been good to have him here with us, but he did what he thought he needed to do.
HF: You also have a strong and talented veteran presence. How important is it to have a solid bunch of guys behind you?
JF: Having that foundation is great. The older guys are always there to offer their guidance and to pick us up sometimes when we’re not feeling it. It also helps because they go out there and show us how to work hard night in and night out.
HF: How have Coach Lucia and the rest of the staff been so far?
JF: They have been pretty stern with us only because we haven’t played our best. I mean, rightfully so. Altogether, they are all great to have around and they’re trying their best to make us all better players.
HF: How was your first collegiate start against the University of Alaska Fairbanks?
JF: That was a good game. I definitely found some holes in my game. It was a good place to start because it gave me an idea of what I needed to work on throughout the year.
HF: Can you talk about your first win against Minnesota State-Mankato?
JF: I had a rough start, but I’m glad I was able to battle back. Anytime I can give my team a chance to win, it’s a great feeling.
HF: You’ve been through tons of different situations so far, but did you get some butterflies early on?
JF: I always get butterflies before the games. At the end of the game, there is just a bit of added pressure, especially when they’re throwing an extra attacker like they did late tonight.
HF: How important was it to get those firsts I mentioned out of the way?
JF: It definitely helps build confidence. Other than that, you have to find your own style and stick with it.
HF: What have you noticed so far that you feel you need to work on?
JF: Oh, definitely my patience. In the first game against UAF, I gave up those because of a lack of patience.
HF: How do you feel about splitting the time between the pipes with Kellen Briggs?
JF: He’s a great guy. He’s a great goaltender and I really respect him. He’s really stepped it up this year and he’s playing well.
HF: What are your overall expectations going into the rest of the season?
JF: We have to build of the momentum gained from this weekend. We have a tough series ahead of us next weekend with both Michigan and Michigan State. We have to keep it simple and take it game by game.
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