Thursday, February 27, 2014

Meet Justin Fregona: UNH's Newest Recruit

2016 UNH Recruit Justin Fregona

When UNH Hockey became a national powerhouse in the 1970's, several top scorers hailed from the province of Ontario, Canada. Players like Guy Smith (Ottawa; 153 points in 88 games), Bob Gould (Petrolia; 192 pts/135 GP), Dave Lumley (Toronto; 169 pts/126 GP), and All-Americans Jamie Hislop (Sarnia; 209 pts/119 GP) and Cliff Cox (Don Mills; 175 pts/108 GP), regularly lit the lamp at the old Snively Arena.

Next fall, Warren Foegele, a high-scoring NHL prospect from Markham, Ontario and St. Andrew's College, is coming to UNH. If all goes according to plan, another offensively-talented player from Ontario will follow Foegele to the Durham campus in the Fall of 2016. 16-year-old Justin Fregona (DOB: 5-29-1997), a 5'8", 150 lbs. right-winger and teammate of Foegele's, has committed to play for the UNH Wildcats.

Fregona (pronounced fre-go-na), from Mississauga, Ontario, is a junior at St. Andrew's College, a university preparatory school outside of Toronto. The Saints are finishing up another championship season having won the Midwest Prep Hockey League Championship last weekend and facing Upper Canada College for the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association Championship this weekend. In 41 regular season games, Fregona posted 24 goals and 29 assists and was the Saints' third-leading scorer. Foegele was the leading scorer with 42 goals and 37 assists. Fregona tied for 7th in scoring in the CISAA and tied for 3rd in MPHL competition.

These video highlights of Justin Fregona (#7 in Red Jersey) are from a MPHL game between St. Andrew's and Ridley College on January 24th. Justin assisted on the Saints' first goal by Adam Sinclair, who is committed to Harvard. After Ridley tied the score, Fregona gathered a headmanned pass from Matthew Graham just over the Ridley blueline, deked a defender in the mid-slot, and fired a wrister into the back of the net. It was the game-winning goal in St. Andrew's 2-1 victory.

In the 2012-'13 season, Fregona was a top-scorer on the high-powered Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget team in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He scored 37 goals and 46 assists in 56 games.

In the 2013 semifinals of the prestigious OHL Cup - an invitational tournament for the top midget minor teams from Ontario and selected teams from the United States - Fregona scored the Marlboros' third goal in a 4-3 victory over the TPH Thunder (Nashville, TN). Interestingly, 2015 or '16 UNH recruit Aaron O'Neill assisted on all three Thunder goals. The Oakville Rangers defeated the Marlboros 5-1 in the Championship Game.

Last April, Justin Fregona was drafted by the Soo Greyhounds in the 13th Round of the Ontario Hockey League's 2013 Priority Draft. He was the 251st overall pick.

I had an opportunity to interview Justin, via email, about his background, commitment to UNH, and future plans:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?
Justin Fregona: UNH could not have been a better fit for my family and I. They expressed interest in me early, and gave me the impression that they really care about their players.
UNH offers a wide variety of strong academic programs, and most importantly a very appealing business program. As a student that is interested in business this was another fitting piece to the puzzle. I visited the campus of UNH the weekend of Feb. 14th-15th and this is where UNH really left its mark. The campus was beautiful, and an ideal size. The idea that UNH hockey is a large part of not only the school, but the state of New Hampshire was also very appealing.
Another large part in my decision to choose UNH was the coaching staff. Assistant Coaches Tortorella and Borek, and Head Coach Umile were supportive of me throughout the year, and showed a great sense of friendliness, and care along with their vast hockey knowledge. Choosing UNH seemed as if it was a no brainer, as it has many great aspects, and is a top-notch Division 1 hockey program with a winning tradition.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Justin Fregona: There were a couple other programs showing interest. I feel as if it would be inappropriate to name them.

Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?
Fregona: Yes, the UNH coaches and I have discussed a target date, which would be the fall of 2016.

Lowry: Your first season at St. Andrew's College has been very successful. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?
Fregona: I feel that the strengths of my game would be my speed and offensive ability. I like to handle the puck at top speed, and use my speed to open up lanes to make plays. I play my best with the puck on my stick, looking to make plays.
I am trying to improve my defensive zone board play, along with my defensive zone decisions without the puck.

Lowry: Do you plan on returning to St. Andrews to play in your senior year?
Fregona: Yes, I plan on returning to St. Andrews. Which I am greatly looking forward to, as the program continues to get stronger.

Lowry: Do you anticipate playing junior hockey before coming to UNH? If so, what leagues would you consider playing in?
Fregona: Yes, I do anticipate playing junior hockey before coming to UNH. I would like to go out west to the BCHL, where I have spoken to a couple of teams.

Lowry: The Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League selected you in the 13th round of the 2013 Priority Draft. Do you have any interest in foregoing the NCAA route and playing major junior hockey in Canada?
Fregona: No, I have no interest in foregoing the NCAA route. My family and I have made that decision once getting to St. Andrew’s and we still believe that the NCAA is the best path, for not only hockey, but to provide me with the foundations to a strong future.

Lowry: As you finish up your junior year at St. Andrews, what are your academic strengths?
Fregona: My academic strengths are business related. I am a strong student with a 86% academic average, and I am currently strong in economics, and law. Courses like these will help better my understanding of overall Business so that I am ready for UNH’s prestigious program.

I would like to add that I am a big fan of UNH’s rink, both for the Olympic sized ice and the overall look and feel of the rink. I am very excited to play at the Whittemore Center.


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