After two college seasons, the junior's understudy days are over. He is now the main man in goal for the Gophers, who open their season tonight in St. Paul.
Jeff Frazee has a pregame routine. He picks one song -- country, techno or rock -- and upon arriving at the rink listens to it nonstop on his iPod.
"Just to clear my head," the Gophers goalie said, "and get all the thoughts out of there."
Frazee's routine also includes drinking two cups of coffee, with one cream and one sugar in each. Finally he will go through his on-ice visualizations, pretending shots are coming at him at different heights and angles. He will simulate making saves with his glove, stick and pads. Never does a puck get past him.
Tonight the routine will play out at Xcel Energy Center, where the Gophers men's hockey team opens its season against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the second game of the IceBreaker Invitational.
"At first the freshmen, I'm sure, will be a little weirded out by what I do," said Frazee, a junior. "But guys catch on quick and realize it works for me."
Goalie coach Robb Stauber approves. "For goalies, it's very beneficial to have a routine, to do the same things," Stauber said. "It sets you up and reminds you what is ahead of you. That's good."
Off nights will be fewer
What lies ahead this season for Frazee is an increased workload. He played 12 games as a freshman and 20 last season when he split time with then-senior Kellen Briggs. Briggs usually played on Fridays, Frazee on Saturdays.
This season, though, Frazee is the Gophers' only experienced goalie. Alex Kangas, his backup, is a freshman. So Gophers coaches hope Frazee can play about 30 games, roughly three of every four.
So far in college, Frazee has played his best in the biggest games. "I get more excited and more amped up for bigger games," he said. "I just thrive on pressure. I am very competitive, and I hate losing."
Coach Don Lucia said his goalie rotation will shake itself out but quickly added, "Certainly the better year Jeff has, the better year we are going to have."
Frazee appears ready to be the No. 1 goalie. "He has got lots of raw talent," Stauber said, "but you cannot survive on talent alone in the league we are in. [The WCHA] is too competitive. You got to be fully prepared both physically and mentally."
Frazee's goalie skills have rarely been questioned. His maturity level has been, but the recent answers are all favorable.
"As a person, Jeff has really turned the corner," Lucia said. "When you are doing well academically and when your work ethic improves, your play is going to improve. You feel better about yourself as a person. And I see Jeff making that step."
He's certainly trying. "I'm taking hockey more seriously and school more seriously," Frazee said.
He said he got an A- and a B in two communication classes this summer. He has dropped 15 pounds since the end of summer by eating right and working out. He is 6-0, 195 pounds. High-calorie salad dressings are out, and 9- or 10-mile morning workouts on an elliptical trainer are in.
"You have to take your whole lifestyle and realize what you are doing to your body affects how you are going to play," Frazee said.
|Seattle - LP: C. Furbush||8||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: J. Smith||10|
|Tampa Bay - LP: J. Lueke||5||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: R. Dickey||7|
|NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson||6||FINAL|
|Baltimore - LP: P. Strop||4|
|Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto||4||FINAL|
|NY Mets - LP: S. Marcum||3|
|Philadelphia - LP: C. Hamels||1||FINAL|
|Miami - WP: A. Sanabia||5|
|Minnesota - LP: K. Correia||1||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran||5|
|Oakland - WP: B. Colon||9||FINAL|
|Texas - LP: J. Lindblom||2|
|Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw||3||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo||1|
|Boston - LP: J. Lester||4||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - WP: D. Axelrod||6|
|Kansas City - LP: J. Guthrie||5||FINAL|
|Houston - WP: D. Keuchel||6|
|Arizona - WP: P. Corbin||5||FINAL|
|Colorado - LP: J. Garland||1|
|St. Louis||2||Bottom 6th Inning|
|Washington||0||Top 6th Inning|