Though well known to Elmira fans, Sugar Kings Brent Freeman and Trent Brown upped their profiles among a wider audience of Junior B followers, earning spots on the Mid-western Conference’s second team all-stars squad.
The two Kings were among a handful of players from Mid-Western teams honoured for their efforts in the 2008-2009 season at the annual league banquet Monday night.
Freeman also picked up the Standard Life Insurance award for sportsmanship and ability.
“It was an honour to be recognized by the league like that,” Freeman told the Observer.
“I’ve worked hard these five years in this league, so it felt good. There are a lot of good players, so I don’t know if I deserved it but it still felt good,” said the assistant captain.
Freeman moved to the Kings after a two-year stint with the Listowel Cyclones. Now in his fifth and final season, the speedy forward has become a cornerstone of the team, picking up 29 goals and 45 assists for 74 points and earning a tenth-place finish in the conference’s overall scoring leaders race.
“With Brent Freeman you know you’re going to get an honest effort every single night: he creates a lot of offence just through his speed. And he is a good defensive player because of his speed that he’s not afraid to engage – he’s got some real offensive talent,” said Sugar King coach Geoff Haddaway.
Though Freeman has without a doubt improved over the last few years with the Kings, his potent velocity, deft stick-handling skills and his generous playmaking abilities have made him one of the team’s most exciting players to watch. Prone to explosive bursts across the rink, the Linwood native is a crucial component of the Kings project.
“He’s an older player, so he’s got smarts. He knows the league, so he creates a lot of turnovers, but if there’s a mistake, just because he’s smart and with decent speed he can get himself back into good position or cover for teammates – we use him in all situations,” said Haddaway.
“There’s no question that when the crunch time comes, whether it’s power play, penalty kill, or late in games, Brent Freeman will always be on the ice,” he added, noting that Freeman might be one of the more underrated players in the league. Consequently, the recent recognition was timely and deserving.
“He goes about things in the right way: there are no cheap shots with him, he’s not a verbal player, he just gets out there and plays.”
Freeman’s teammate Trent Brown also received some accolades this week, earning a spot on the conference’s second all star squad. Though the Ayr native may have struggled a little in the early going of the season, he quickly settled in and went on to become one of the team’s most solid blueliners.
“The last half of the season Trent’s been really good; he’s been stronger defensively than he ever has been. His defensive game has significantly improved over last year, he’s seeing a lot more penalty killing time and his offensive numbers have gone up,” said Haddaway.
Brown also has good vision for setting up his forwards, and often does so with smooth efficacy – especially on the power play.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that since Christmas our power play numbers are a lot higher than they were in the first half of the season – that coincides with Trent and others, but specifically, Trent finding his game,” said Haddaway.
This year the elegant blue-liner earned himself a third-place finish on the defencemen’s scoring leaders’ list, picking up 10 goals and 30 assists – nine of those goals and 17 of those assists came while on the man-advantage.
“It feels good. A bunch of guys up there that I’m in that caliber with – it’s awesome,” said Brown, noting that he and his teammates hit their stride once lines started to click, and chemistry to develop.