It’s not often an OHL graduate can say he spent five years playing for his hometown team, but Alex Friesen is among those unique few.
A native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Friesen put up over 100 points during his minor midget season, prompting the Niagara IceDogs to select him in the second round of the 2007 OHL Priority Selection.
An undersized forward at 5-foot-9, Friesen and fellow ’91-born winger Andrew Agozzino played the game at high speed, bringing the fans out of their seats at “The Jack” as they helped lead the IceDogs to an Eastern Conference title in 2012.
“It was a great five years and being able to play at home was awesome,” said Friesen of his time with the Dogs that saw the club win seven playoff rounds. “We had a couple good teams there, good years and good runs and it’s something that I remember and cherish.”
Friesen played in 292 career regular season OHL contests, recording 91 goals, 153 assists and 244 points in the process. He appeared in 61 playoff games, recording 51 points including 14 goals and 37 assists.
One of those 14 career playoff goals came in Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa 67’s. Friesen was the hometown hero at The Jack, scoring the game winner just beyond the midway point of the second period to send the Niagara IceDogs to their first ever appearance in the OHL Championship Series.
Additionally, Friesen was the 2008 recipient of the Ivan Tennant Award, a distinction given to the OHL’s top academic high school student. He was also named a third team all-star during his final OHL season in 2011-12 after recording 71 points (26-45–71) over 62 games.
Now 26-years-old, the former sixth round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2010 is happy to be a part of the OHL Alumni Association after attending the 2nd annual OHL Alumni Golf Classic in June.
“It’s nice to see guys you haven’t seen in awhile and it’s great to be able to support a good cause, to support something that’s going to benefit somebody,” he said of the OHL Alumni Association’s $15,000 raised for the Gudbranson Stem Cell Research Grant.
Friesen was one of 124 attendees at the OHL Alumni Golf Classic in Caledon, Ont. and took the chance to catch up with former teammates and opponents alike.
“Everybody’s got a different path,” he continued. “Some guys play in the NHL, others use their education package and go to school and some guys like myself end up playing minor pro. It’s always nice to come back, get together and see what guys have done.”
Friesen’s journey has included five years of minor pro hockey spent in the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues farm systems. He has appeared in 297 career regular season AHL contests with the Chicago Wolves and Utica Comets, registering 34 goals, 64 assists and 98 points in the process.
He had a memorable 2014-15 season in Utica, helping a Comets team that also included fellow OHL grads in Brendan Gaunce, Frank Corrado, Nicklas Jensen and Darren Archibald to reach the Calder Cup Final before falling in five games to the Manchester Monarchs.
Arguably the most memorable chapter of Friesen’s hockey career, he made his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks on February 15, 2016 against the Minnesota Wild.
With five years of pro hockey under his belt, Friesen is taking his game to Europe for the 2017-18 season, signing a contract with Swedish club Leksands IF in the Allsvenskan.
“I’m still looking to play hockey,” he said of the opportunity. “I love the game still and I’m looking forward to the chance to play in Sweden next season.”
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