Bouncing back: Denver’s Freddie Halyk showing resilience in first season

  

Freddie Halyk is one of six goaltenders in the country who have already achieved three shutouts this season. However, he is the only freshman to have accomplished this feat.

The 20-year-old Denver Pioneers netminder achieved his first shutout with a 24-save performance against Air Force at the end of October. He followed this up with back-to-back shutouts, stopping a combined 41 shots on goal to close out the month of November.

In an interview with The Rink on Tuesday, Halyk said, “I kind of just focus on winning, I don’t really care,” laughing off the significance of his statistics.

However, he does want to be the best version of himself.

With junior Matt Davis sidelined for an extended period of time, Halyk has been given more playing time than he anticipated at the start of the year. But the Cochrane, Alberta, native has faced the challenge head-on.

Halyk has taken his lumps, allowing four-plus goals in four straight games after giving up one or fewer goals in his first four starts. However, he has also performed very well at times. He bounced back from that difficult stretch with back-to-back shutouts against Yale and took home NCHC Goaltender of the Week honors. The weekly award was Halyk’s second of the year after claiming NCHC Rookie of the Week in early November.

It has been a season of adjustments for the freshman netminder. The recovery has been easier. Halyk spent last season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he would often play three or four games per week. At the collegiate level, games are primarily reserved for Fridays and Saturdays.

Halyk has been assertive in working to develop his game as fast as possible during the week. However, he has also had to find that happy medium of not overdoing it.

“(The biggest adjustment this season thus far has been) just finding the right balance between continuing to work on my game with practice time, goalie skates and stuff while still being fresh for the games,” Halyk said.

Halyk faced his biggest challenge of the season last weekend when Denver hosted rival North Dakota at Magness Arena. He had a difficult outing in Friday’s stunning defeat, allowing a season-high seven goals.

But Halyk has shown tremendous mental fortitude to quickly move on from games in his freshman campaign. He bounced back on Saturday, stopping 29 of 31 shots on goal in the Pioneers’ overtime win.

“The crowd was loud,” Halyk said of the weekend. “The boys were pumped to play. It was a very fun series.”

Halyk and the Pioneers will get a chance to reflect on the first half of the season after this weekend. Denver will face their first road test in nearly a month, when they travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to face Western Michigan.

The Broncos boast one of the best offenses in the country, led by their power play unit, which is clicking at a 25.0% clip this year. Led by upperclassmen Sam Colangelo, Luke Grainger and Dylan Wendt, who all have at least eight goals, this weekend should be another good test for Halyk.

However, the young netminder may have unlocked the key to his success for the remainder of the season in that second game against North Dakota.

“Expand off Saturday,” Halyk said about how to grow his game moving forward. “I thought Saturday, I made the game simple against a really good team. Just having the same level of confidence.”

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