The Delta Ice Hawks are finding out the hard way why Harry Fredeman just might be the most valuable player in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League this season.
The 20-year-old goaltender from Ladner was a big reason why the North Delta Devils were among the top teams in the PIJHL over the second half of the season. Now he is making life miserable for the Ice Hawks.
He earned first star honours in leading North Delta to a 3-2 game one victory on Tuesday and was even more brilliant one night later, making 68 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss. The best-of-seven quarter-final series resumes tonight with game three at Sungod Arena at 7: 30 p.m. Game four goes Saturday at 6: 45 p.m., also at Sungod.
Fredeman is one of three elite 1991 born goaltenders to come through South Delta Minor Hockey who went on to play at the junior level, joining Sean Bonar and Cole Chreptyk. He spent much of his career with the struggling Mission Icebreakers where he saw plenty of pucks each night but only got to be part of five playoff games over a three year span.
A move to North Delta this season provided him with a fresh start for his final year of junior eligibility and he has certainly made the most of it.
"When I was 17, I was just looking for a place to play," explained Fredeman of his decision to sign with Mission. "It was always tough making the 'AAA' teams (in South Delta) but it still has worked out well.
"North Delta provided me with a good opportunity and hopefully I can take them through this series and we can meet Richmond in the next round. It was a tough one tonight but we are confident, especially going back home now."
Ice Hawks coach Dave McLellan was well aware his team would have to get through the "Fredeman road block" for his team to reach the conference finals for a third consecutive season, but even he was surprised to see that level of performance.
His squad outshot the Devils 71-29 in game two and it took an Alex Martin screened point shot during an overtime power play to even the series.
"The reason why they finished where they did in the standings was because of their goaltending," said McLellan. "I think we showed tonight we can out muscle them, win battles and take the puck to the net. We just got to find more ways to beat their goaltender. We made a few adjustments tonight from game one and it paid off for us.
"I think we have changed the pressure of the series a bit and hopefully we can maintain that on Friday."
The Devils took a 1-0 lead into the second period of game two when Delta got goals from Anthony Brito and Ryan Cuthbert to take its first lead of the series. North Delta got back on even terms when Manuveer Mahil beat Alex Anhert near the midway mark of the third.
Martin's power play winner was a result of a high sticking penalty to former Ice Hawk Sam Vikich.
Game five is slated for Tuesday, 7: 30 p.m. at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
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