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Ethan Frisch named NCHC defensive defenseman of the year

The Moorhead product has been on UND's top defensive pairing this season.

Minnesota Duluth Men’s Hockey faces North Dakota at Amsoil Arena Friday
North Dakota defenseman Ethan Frisch (15) controls the puck against Minnesota Duluth on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ethan Frisch had a stretch in January and February where he scored goals in six of seven games for UND.

The former Moorhead High blue liner is third in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in goals among defensemen with nine.

But he's pretty good at defending, too.

Frisch was named the NCHC's defensive defenseman of the year Thursday during the NCHC awards ceremony in St. Paul.

Frisch beat out two other finalists — his UND defensive partner, Jake Sanderson, and Denver's Justin Lee.


Frisch is UND's third-straight winner of the award and fourth overall. Jacob Bernard-Docker won it last year. Colton Poolman won it the year before. Tucker Poolman won it in its inaugural year of 2017.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Frisch has played right defense on UND's top pairing this season, mixing in his shutdown ability with an emerging offensive game.

"He's always been good at defending, playing hard away from the puck, being good positionally and breaking out pucks," UND coach Brad Berry said. "His neutral zone gaps have always been good.

"But now, what you're seeing is the offensive side of it. He didn't get an opportunity early on to play on the power play. Now, he's getting rewarded for it. He's gotten an opportunity and he's taking advantage of it, scoring some goals and being a key part of that first power-play unit."

Frisch, a junior, has played more than 22 minutes in 12-straight games and has played more than 25 minutes in five of the last eight contests. Frisch even eclipsed the 30-minute mark in a 60-minute game against Colorado College last month.

"Those are hard minutes," Berry said. "Those are not easy minutes. Those are situations where he starts a penalty kill and stays out there for a good part of that. He plays power play, five-on-five, four-on-four as well. At the end of the day, he keeps himself in unreal shape. He's a worker. He maintains his body at a high, high level, starting in the summertime and building strength through his body and maintaining it throughout the year."

Frisch, an alternate captain, leads the team with 58 blocked shots.

"As a coach, I've been here a while, and when you have players who come through your group that will do anything for the team, anything to try to win, those are the guys that are leaders on your team," Berry said. "There's a reason why he's wearing a letter, because he does the right things day after day."


NCHC defensive defensemen of the year

2017 — Tucker Poolman, North Dakota
2018 — Will Borgen, St. Cloud State
2019 — Jimmy Schuldt, St. Cloud State
2020 — Colton Poolman, North Dakota
2021 — Jacob Bernard-Docker, North Dakota
2022 — Ethan Frisch, North Dakota

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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