Fraser hockey working to improve

Ramblers youth holds hope for future

By: Thomas Franz | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published January 15, 2014

FRASER — In a shutout loss to White Lake Lakeland on Jan. 10, Fraser’s hockey team provided glimpses of where its program could be heading with more experience in the near future.

This year’s Ramblers are still searching for their first win, but that has not stopped them from competing hard in MAC competition to establish a foundation from which to grow.

“We’re up to 17 players on the team, whereas other teams have 50 players try out and take the best 20,” Fraser coach Don Krussman said. “It’s just going to be an uphill battle; we have to get our guys more experienced and older. It’s very difficult to play freshmen and sophomores when you’re going against juniors and seniors.”

In addition to inexperience, finding quality depth has been a challenge for Krussman’s program.

“We’re trying to get more depth and attract more players to the program, and get experienced players in the program,” Krussman said. “Our top guys are playing their hardest and making plays; it’s just more of a depth thing. We have some good shifts, but to sustain it over 51 minutes is just difficult. We’re young and inexperienced, so many nights it’s tough for us.”

Despite the team’s struggles so far this season, there have been bright spots. In the contest against Lakeland, goaltender Dan Hiltz made 33 saves, three of which came in a flurry of point-blank shots in the second period when Hiltz had to sprawl across the crease to prevent a goal.

“Dan (Hiltz) joined just recently, and he’s had some tough games because we’ve played some hard teams when he’s been in net, but he’s still improving and getting better and working hard, and he’s trying to do all he can,” Krussman said. “He made some great saves, and a lot of times, it was secondary shots that went in where guys muscled their way past our guys.”

Fraser has three seniors on its roster this season, two of whom are goaltenders, so Krussman has turned to junior defenseman Zach Zombo to be the team’s captain and leader.

“We have our two goalies as seniors and one other player as a senior. We have a lot of juniors, and Zombo has been our best player night in and night out. He’s our captain and does all he can for us. We just need some of our secondary players to improve so that they can help out.”

By the end of the season, Krussman hopes that his team learns from playing against tougher competition so that it develops a winning mentality for the future.

“What’s good for us is to see how hard these guys on the other team play. It’s a mental attitude that our guys have to get more in them where we just don’t want the other team to have the puck. It’s an evolution of their mental toughness,” Krussman said. “When you’re a young kid growing into a young adult, you just have to get mentally tougher and compete harder.”

Fraser will continue its schedule with a Jan. 17 game against Troy and a Jan. 18 contest at Troy Athens.