Eagles hockey trusts the process

Mar. 8—BEEKMANTOWN — For the Beekmantown boys hockey team, it comes down to a few simple mottos: Commitment and trusting the process.

"It's doing things the right way, every day, trying to get 1% better every day and just remaining focused on the process," Eagles head coach Justin Frechette said. "And we believe that the process produces results on the ice and in the classroom, I think that is the formula, if you can stay focused on the process throughout the season, you will maximize the potential of your team.

"I think that is what allows you to continue to develop throughout the year. Hopefully at the end of the year, you're one of those programs that's in the mix. and that's what you always want and I think we're one of those programs. I think we have been over the last many years. It goes back to the culture of the program, but it really is all about the process for us."

Only one team a year is truly happy when the season ends as they claim the championship. For the second year in a row, Beekmantown fell in a NYSPHSAA Division II Regional Final.

While the loss, March 2, ended a season many thought may go further, Frechette said there are many things to be proud of.

"Going into the season we had 11 first year players on our roster," he said. "Some of the achievements we are super proud of are: Being honored as a NYSPHSAA Scholar Athlete team, seeing our team win the Salmon River tournament, winning our own Applebee's tournament and seeing three of our players cross the 100 point milestone. Zach LaPier crossed the 150 point milestone. Louis Sweenor reached the 100 point marker, as a pure defenseman, and Sam Bingel crossed the 100 point marker as well.

"Going undefeated through the league for two consecutive years, winning back-to-back sectional titles. I could not ask more from a group of young men for what they accomplished this season. I think we have a really good culture in our program and we have good leadership from our veteran players in our locker room. With that it allows you to win a lot of games."

Successful seasons aren't rare for Beekmantown. This season saw Frechette eclipse both the 200 career win mark and 100 career wins in the CVAC.

And a large part of it is the leadership provided by the veteran players on the hockey team.

"We're big on modeling behavior," Frechette said. "We ask our leadership core, not just our captains and assistant captains, but any veteran player to do things the right way. Do things the right way in the classroom, in the community and at the rink.

"Probably the best compliment you can give to a veteran player is to tell your younger players to model the behaviors and work rate of your veteran players. Have them watch how they attack their work in the classroom, in the community and on the ice. In modeling that behavior, those kids see what is expected and can watch their peers doing the right things time and time again, they buy in because they see the results of that hard work."

Frechette said that there's tremendous support and open communication between the younger and older players in his program, with the latter helping the former in anything they need.

As that relationship develops throughout the season, it can do wonderful things on the ice.

"Those are the things I would say that happen behind the curtain, and are some of the major reasons why you are able to win hockey games," Frechette said. "It's the things people don't see going on. Super proud of our leadership and just for a great season overall."

The 11 new players on the roster is the most Beekmantown has welcomed in recent history, Frechette said.

One of the highlights of the season has been Freshman goaltender Jack Bell that Frechette said he saw tremendous growth and development in throughout the year. But, it wasn't the biggest change he saw in Bell. It's his mentality.

"There was never a game that was too big for Jack," Frechette said. "It's hard sometimes to put a freshman goalie in some of those big situations, but Jack never blinked."

"He met every challenge. Our team rallied around him. Could not be more proud of the young man and what he was able to give our team throughout the season. I think back to our big games, Jack made many great saves that allowed us to close out wins. I'm super proud of him and excited to see his development moving forward."

Frechette added he's excited for the other 10 first year players as well. When you have that many young players on your roster it can be a challenge to get them up to speed. But, he knew quickly how special the 2023-24 team could be.

"Day one," Frechette said. "I think a lot of people look at rosters, they look at points, they look at sizes of kids, sizes of teams.

"Really what it comes down to is having a culture within your program that when people come in, they buy in. When you put a group of people together and they are willing to commit to a common goal, accept their roles and to doing things the right way, every day, we call it the process in our program. Great things can happen within any organization."

And while the season ended in not the fashion the Eagles wanted it to, Frechette used one word to define his team: RESILIENT

"Their resiliency in having as many young first year players more than we've ever had in our program's history to achieve the things that they did this year," he said. "No Season has ever been defined by one game, but rather the journey and the life lessons learned along that journey according to Frechette.

"It's a holistic approach in our program that I take and I cannot be more proud of a group of young men. What this group of young men gave to our program I am thankful for. We say all the time, empty the tank and they emptied the tank."