Lakewood native Friedrichs finds balanced fit for hockey, academics with NCAA D-III Anna Maria commitment
Mason Friedrichs played for six junior hockey teams over his three-year career, but the Lakewood native saw that as a positive to his development.
Next season, Friedrichs will head to college after his recent commitment to NCAA Division III Anna Maria College, a school in Paxton, Mass.
“Right before Christmas, I reached out and expressed my interest in Anna Maria,” said Friedrichs. “I had a nice phone call with coach Paul Martone. Then, when I got traded to (the NA3HL’s) Norwich (Sea Captains), I had a couple interactions and a visit to their campus and rink. The smaller campus made it have a very tight-knit feel with the majority of students being athletes. The coaches and professors were very welcoming and made for a good experience. As for the hockey side, the way the program is headed and how well they treat their players was a huge selling point for me to choose Anna Maria.
“This final season of juniors prepared me for college hockey by giving me the opportunity to play with a wide range of players. Packing my bags for three teams allowed me to meet a bunch of different players and continue to work on different aspects of my game, based on the role I played on each team. I believe it made me into a more rounded player that can make an impact regardless of the role I play. It also solidified that no two paths are the same, but with my work ethic, it allowed for opportunity to grow my game.”
During the 2022-23 season, Friedrichs played for the Sea Captains and Mason City Toros in the NA3HL and the USPHL’s Steele County Blades. In 2021-22, he skated for the NA3HL’s Sheridan Hawks and USPHL’s Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings. Friedrichs began his junior career in 2020-21 with the USPHL’s Dells Ducks.
“I am very pleased for Mason that he was able to secure his commitment to Anna Maria,” said Sea Captains head coach Kevin Cunningham. “From our initial conversation when we traded for him, Mason was determined to find a good fit for him to continue his academic and hockey careers in college. I wish him nothing but success with the Amcats and offer him and his family my heartfelt congratulations.”
Now with his college commitment secured, Friedrichs can start to plan for the future.
“School has always been a priority because hockey ends at some time for everyone, and preparing myself for what is to come has always been a priority,” Friedrichs said. “Hockey has always been the reason why I choose to apply myself for school. I knew in order to be appealing for college, I needed good grades on top of a hockey skill set to be considered.
“I plan to major in Business because I believe it is applicable to any career I choose to pursue after college. My family is involved in business and have groomed me in a way to follow in their footsteps.”
Growing up, Friedrichs said he began playing hockey after he watched “The Mighty Ducks” movie for the first time.
“I then went to a rink with a family friend and got my first puck and it was all history from there,” said Friedrichs. “From then, it was going to learn to skate programs and playing hockey in the garage with a goal taped on the wall for me to shoot at. I then would go with my grandpa to University of Denver games.”
On the ice, Friedrichs played for the Foothills Flyers from Squirts to his first year of 16U, then made the switch to the Littleton Hawks for his second year 16U and both years of 18U. At the start of his first year 16U, he also played for the Chatfield Chargers high school hockey team through his junior year.
“Matt Frick has had a tremendous impact on my hockey career, having worked with him for the last eight years or so,” Friedrichs said. “He has helped me progress on ice and also improved my confidence and helped guide me along my career. Neil Ruffini also stands out as a positive influence in my career as I have spent countless hours on and off the ice with him and his wife in my offseasons. I can’t thank them enough for the time and effort they have invested in my career.”
Moving ahead, Friedrichs said he has short-term and long-term goals in both hockey and away from the rink.
“Looking short term, I would like to come into Anna Maria and find a role where I can dress and have an impact to help contribute to a winning season,” said Friedrichs. “Being an independent team, there is no conference championship to play for, but if our record is higher than past seasons, I will consider it a success. I just want to continue to work my hardest individually to contribute to the team’s overall success.
“Once I am done with school, I would like to play some sort of professional hockey. Looking at where the majority of NCAA D-III guys go after college is the SPHL with a select few going to the ECHL. Obviously, my goal is to play at the highest level I can, but if those leagues aren’t an option, I would try to find a league in Europe to play. I took German in high school, so that if I were to go overseas I would be half a step ahead, but I would like to play professional hockey for a couple of years and see where it takes me.”
— Matt Mackinder
(May 17, 2023)