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After a too-fast start with too-slow moments, Chill forward Frischmon finds the right speed

By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Thursday, December 9, 2010 | Photo by Erik Daily

ONALASKA – There is nothing magical about Coulee Region Chill forward Zac Frischmon's transformation from a struggling rookie into one of the top five goal scorers in the NAHL.

Frischmon himself can't point to one factor. There's veteran confidence, an intense offseason training program, a better understanding of his role, a change of scene and more.  What's clear is that Frischmon is playing at a high level this season. The 20-year-old from Blaine, Minn., leads the Chill in goals (17) and points (26).

"I kind of expected him to have this kind of a year and be our leading goal-scorer," Coulee Region coach Garrett Strot said. "He was one of the better players in the state in high school and had to adapt to the level."

Frischmon played in 58 games for North Iowa last season, his first in juniors. He scored eight goals and 19 points and had a minus-34 rating.  It was a learning experience even for a player who had been to the Minnesota state tournament four straight years with Class AA power Blaine High School.

"Getting used to the pace was a major adjustment for me," Frischmon said. "I started off almost playing too fast. I was trying to make things happen too quickly, moving through scoring areas too fast. Other times I wasn't getting into the areas. So it was kind of finding that comfort level and just expecting what's going to happen."

Frischmon felt things start to click midway through the season. Not wanting to lose that edge, Frischmon hit the team's offseason workout regimen hard, skating six or seven days a week and lifting five days a week.  By the time he reported to the team's final tryout camp in late July, Frischmon was in top form, something that Strot and the coaching staff noticed right away.

"I knew this year was kind of make or break for me; kind of go big or go home" Frischmon said. "This offseason I had the mindset that I was going to play Division I next year. I was just constantly working on my strength and my skills. You come in faster and stronger you feel more dominant."

Frischmon's increased offense hasn't come at the cost of his defense. He prides himself on being a two-way forward who's responsible in his own zone rather than floating around waiting for breakout passes.

"That's just how it's always been," Frischmon said. "Some guys are one-way players and that's what they're good at. Being a two-way player just works for me. Scouts look for different things and different types of players. I just stick to what I do and try doing the details the best I can like blocking shots and backchecking."

Frischmon's strong start earned him a spot in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Boston on Dec. 5-7, joining Chill teammates Paul Moberg, Connor Gaarder and Matt Blomquist.  He turned in three points in three games for Team Weight (named after NHL player Doug Weight, an NAHL alumnus), which was coached by Strot and won the tournament.

"I had a blast," Frischmon said. "I was talking to a couple of the guys that went and we all agreed on one thing, that it was a lot of fun to play at that higher pace and it's almost going to be kind of a bummer to go back to playing regular season games. It is so much fun when everybody out there had such a high capability."

For Frischmon, it also was a chance to play against teams loaded with players who have signed with or will sign with Division I teams. Strot said Frischmon, 5-feet-10, 180 pounds, is getting closer to reaching that status.

"He brings a lot of energy and he works hard in the corners," Strot said, "but they want a guy who's 6-2. Once they come to realize the effort and energy he brings, he will fit onto any team and accept any role and I think that's why he will end up getting something. A lot of scouts liked him (in Boston) and are going to keep tabs on him."