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Friesen uncovered

Robin Keith Thompson



Alex Freisen will make this organization rhyme worth and mirth together down the road. The recent 6th rounder has won major awards at the Ontario Hcokey League level and this season was voted by popular decision (OHL coaches poll) as the league's Best Faceoff Man AND Hardest Working Player

Kudos Alex. See my entire write-up on the kid entitled "The Frieght Unknown"

Certainly NHL Central Scouting (he was not even on their listing) did not value him the way the Canucks did and it shows in GM Mike Gillis' comments. "He's a very hard-nosed player, really good on faceoffs," Gillis said."He scored in the top-three in our psychological and intelligence testing."

He had a head-to-head meeting with 2008 1st round pick Cody Hodgson that went very well for the Canucks.

Last year's Niagara IceDogs HUMANITARIAN AWARD and this year's HEART AND SOUL AWARD winner is set to make believers out of us. Heck, if he played in the Western Hockey League the Calgary Flames would have snapped him up in the second round of LAST year's draft

Not included at all in the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting rankings, the Canucks went ahead and relied on their own scouting murmur to grab sparkplug centre Alex Friesen from the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League in the 6th round (172nd overall).

He remained as the Canucks’ only draft pick that was a forward in five total picks (one goaltender) and possesses a strong forechecking ability accented by his speed. ”Alex makes up for any perceived lack of size he might have with speed and work ethic,” Niagara head coach Mike McCourt stated in a Sudbury Star article in January 2010.

Known as a streaky left-handed scorer in the OHL, he rang up 17 multiple point games this season and even tallied four points in a game against Missisauga on 1 October 2009. He wrapped up the 2009-2010 season with 60 points in his 60 games and added 94 penalty-minutes as well.

Keep in mind that offense was not his calling card as much as his play against the opposition’s top players. He was the IceDogs leader during the regular season in +/- with a +18 mark and also set the team standard for assists with 37. Impressive when you factor in that the team barely qualified for the playoffs with a .441 winning percentage and a goals-for/against mark of 191/233 (-42). They were ousted by the Ottawa 67’s in five games despite his efforts; #8 led the IceDogs with seven points in those contests.

The 5′9″, 189 pound pivot is a hybrid of Canucks’ nemisis Dave Bolland and fan favourite Alexandre Burrows. He was honoured by the league as the OHL’s “Hardest Working Player“ and “Best Face-off Man“. Read the OHL release, which includes ALL the OHL Awards including Canucks’ 2008 1st round pick Cody Hodgson, who contended for and won a number of categories.

In a 18 February 2010 match (game report) that feature both Hodgson and Friesen, the IceDogs eventually came out on top with 4:31 left in the third period against Hodgson’s Brampton Battalion. It was the only goal in a 4-3 game that did not involve one of the two players; Hodgson finished with one goal and two assists while Friesen pulled in three assists. Named 3rd star, Friesen’s selection could absolutely pay dividends in the future.

Speaking about star OHL players, I happened upon a Youtube video of him taking out Taylor Hall on 6 February 2010:

Intangibles are a large part of what is already an attractive package. With the skills to challenge this coming season for a roster spot on Canada’s World Junior Team a definite possibility, one might overlook his off ice smarts. In 2007-2008, Alex was named the OHL’s Top Acadmic Player, “Ivan Tennant Award“, as a rookie. After his second season he was named the IceDogs’ ”Humanitarian Award“, and he followed that up this past campaign with the team’s “Heart of the Team Award“.

The Canucks obviously see a lot of character despite the fact that the Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario-born centre was not even ranked by NHL Central Scouting. “He’s a very hard-nosed player, really good on faceoffs,” GM Mike Gillis said. “He scored in the top-three in our psychological and intelligence testing. Vancouver’s forward prospects may not have much coming from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in the way of numbers; quality and character seem to lining up in the middle.


28 June 2010 / Robin Keith Thompson




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