'Valuable year' sets Ethan Frisch up for NHL Draft, freshman year at UND
Ethan Frisch knows how some scouts may have viewed his season.
After all, it's hard to miss the highly publicized NHL Central Scouting Bureau draft rankings, where he went from the No. 109-ranked North American skater in January to unranked in April.
But Frisch, a UND recruit, has his own opinion about a season in which he opted to leave Moorhead High School, played for a woeful Green Bay Gamblers team in the United States Hockey League until February, got traded to the Fargo Force and finished the season playing exclusively on his off side.
"This was one of my most valuable years of hockey," Frisch said. "I experienced so many different things this year. I had never before been on a team with a losing record. I had never been on a team that had lost 12 games in a year. This year in Green Bay, we had streaks where we lost 12 in a row. I really found out a lot about myself and had to learn how to deal with adversity. This was a great year for me.
"Whatever the stats say, whatever the records say, some people might not have thought it was a very good year individually. I thought it was one of the best years experience-wise."
Frisch said he will take that knowledge going forward to UND in the fall.
"I experienced two different styles of coaching staffs," he said. "I experienced winning and losing. I experienced ups and downs. Just having those different things happen to me, and learning to deal with them, was great for me and I think it will be vital for my, hopefully, long career."
Next weekend, the 5-foot-11, 189-pound right-handed shooting defenseman will be monitoring the NHL Draft from afar.
He might get picked. He might not. Some teams have Frisch on their radar, others do not have him on their draft list.
If he goes, it will be Saturday during Rounds 2-7.
"I'd like to say I'm going to watch it, but I think it will drive me nuts," Frisch said. "If my phone rings, it does. If it doesn't, I'll go on with my day. It would be disappointing, but the bottom line is that it's not that big of a deal."
There are numerous attributes that scouts like about Frisch.
"He's a very smart, competitive, efficient, responsible defender," Fargo Force head coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux said. "He's a player who can play in all situations for a team. At times, his game can be understated. Most often, he's going to have positive impacts on a game. What gives him an edge over some players of his stature is his competitiveness."
The concerns are whether he generates enough offense from the back end. Last season, Frisch had four goals and 17 points in 57 games with Green Bay and Fargo.
"He has unbelievable maturity and work ethic," an NHL scout told the Herald. "He thinks the game pretty well. He competes. He needs to keep working on his skating and hopefully he can add some offense. He can probably defend fine for UND next year, but he was supposed to have more offense in his game. That never really materialized in the USHL. We'll see if he can carve out a niche at UND this year."
Frisch will join a veteran defensive corps at UND. The headliners are two free agents who NHL teams are generating NHL interest in captain Colton Poolman and junior-to-be Matt Kiersted. The defensive group also features first-round NHL draft pick Jacob Bernard-Docker, second-round NHL draft pick Jonny Tychonick, junior-to-be Gabe Bast, senior-to-be Andrew Peski and junior-to-be Josh Rieger.
"I'm not expecting an easy road to playing time," Frisch said. "They have a lot of great D-men and a lot of great other players. I'm looking forward to proving myself, getting playing time and helping the team win."
Although the focus this weekend will be on the NHL, that's not at the front of Frisch's mind.
"UND has a track record of getting people to the next level," Frisch said. "But I want to see what I can do at the college level. I want to win a national championship some day. UND has a great coaching staff and a great staff in general. I was told they treat you like kings, but they expect a lot out of you."
Size: 5-11, 189.
Hometown: Moorhead, Minn.
2018-19 team: Green Bay/Fargo (USHL).
2018-19 stats: 57 games, 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points.
2019-20 team: UND.
Herald draft projection: 7th round-undrafted.
Central Scouting rank: Not ranked.
Fargo Force coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux says: "He's a very smart, competitive, efficient, responsible defender. He's a player who can play in all situations for a team. At times, his game can be understated. Most often, he's going to have positive impacts on a game. What gives him an edge over some players of his stature is his competitiveness."
An NHL scout says: "He came into the year with a lot of expectations. He's going to be an interesting one. It's tough to make the jump from Moorhead to the USHL. Then, he went to one of the worst teams in the league (Green Bay), then he got traded (to Fargo). He has unbelievable maturity and work ethic. He thinks the game pretty well. He competes. He needs to keep working on his skating and hopefully he can add some offense. He can probably defend fine for UND next year, but he was supposed to have more offense in his game. That never really materialized in the USHL. We'll see if he can carve out a niche at UND this year. I really like him as a person."