Breann Frykas has seen the playoffs. She was a part of the team that won it all last year, but with a bigger role on a new team, she has blossomed into a team-oriented leader.
Frykas, a junior forward for the women’s ice hockey team, played for national champion Wisconsin last season, but transferred to Quinnipiac, where she has seen more time on the ice than she did last season.
“I got to practice a lot with top players, but not necessarily playing in game situations,” said Frykas, who played in all 41 Wisconsin games last year on the fourth line.
Frykas was with the Badgers’ national championship team last year, a team that won 25 of its final 27 games. Wisconsin outscored its opponents 212-70 in the 41 games, largely in part to Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker, who combined for 120 goals.
“Not playing a lot, I was able to look at a lot of the role models of the team,” said Frykas, who scored four goals and had seven assists last season. “People like Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight are great role models out there and I try and take the motivation of those players and put it toward my season this year.”
But Frykas isn’t concerned about her individual stats as long as the team succeeds.
“It’s about the big picture and about the team,” Frykas said.
Frykas said the national championship experience last season was an incredible and memorable event.
“It’s obviously a memory I’ll never forget,” she said. “It was an amazing experience. It’s something I definitely look forward to do again in my future.”
But Frykas’ future isn’t in Madison anymore, but rather 1,000 miles east. She transferred to Quinnipiac over the summer and has seen an increased amount of playing time.
“You only have four years of college, so it’s better to play than to sit on the bench,” Frykas said. “Obviously not playing a lot last year, it was a bit rusty in the playing area … I definitely had some situations that needed to be fixed and [the Quinnipiac coaching staff] definitely helped me do that this year.”
Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley knew what Frykas brought to the table when she contacted him, as he had scouted her as a recruit.
“We were well aware of what she was capable of from scouting and recruiting her in the past,” Seeley said. “It was a no-brainer for us when she expressed interest in Quinnipiac as one of the schools she was thinking of transferring to.”
Seeley moved Frykas from forward to defense early in the season, but switched her back after a couple of weeks. It wasn’t because of poor play, but because of team necessity.
“She gave us a lot back there in terms of speed and moving the puck out of our zone, but we also needed that speed and scoring up front so that’s ultimately why we made the switch back,” Seeley said.
Frykas didn’t start off the season on fire, recording just two points in the team’s first 11 games.
“It’s a lot of new changes for her, obviously, coming from a talented Wisconsin team that you can just fly around,” Quinnipiac teammate Amanda Colin said. “I think as the season has gone on and progressed, we’ve both gotten a lot more well known with the system and that’s helped a lot. She’s obviously made huge improvements in situations of starting and stopping and you can see that in her contributions to the team.”
Frykas and Colin were roommates in the team’s first road trip to Mercyhurst the first weekend of the season, and played together on the same line in the second game of a two-game series. Frykas said she and Colin focus on their finesse moves with the puck and the two spoke with the coaching staff the first weekend to discuss how they can blend in their skills with the coaching staff.
It wasn’t quick, but they were able to put their skills to use in the team’s Nov. 22 win vs. then-No. 4 ranked Boston College. Frykas took a rebound and sent a shot on net, and Colin was there to pick up the rebound and send it past goaltender Corinne Boyles for the overtime win.
“I think that was a big turning point,” Colin said. “The whole play, you could go back to the game, but the whole situation just generated from just little details. I think that game was a good stepping stone forward and was something to look back and build on. We were successful, so if that’s all it takes then why not do it every game.”
Now Frykas has showed her scoring potential. She has scored four goals in the month of February. She ranks second on the team in scoring and third in points. But for her, it’s the ability to step up when the team needs her to.
“For a leadership role on this team it’s helped,” Frykas said. “In the big picture, everyone needs to work hard and that is a big team aspect of how we’re going to do.”
Good timing, because the team plays at Clarkson in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals this weekend.
Seeley said Frykas isn’t looking back at her title run to help this year’s team.
“She hasn’t said ‘This is how it’s done, guys, so jump on my back,’” Seeley said.
For Frykas, she said she would look to last year for herself as a memory.
“Some of those moments last year when we were going through the playoffs are ones that I want to go again through this year,” Frykas said. “I want to remember how good they feel, and just to worry about how important each game is and how much of an impact it can have for the big picture to succeed.”