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Freese comes back to the ice

The Blizzard’s Aammir Freese (right) played football last year but joined the Alex organization with a little encouragement from Mick Dhein (left). (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

At this time last year, Aammir Freese was a student athlete playing outside linebacker for Hamline University’s football team.

But a year away from hockey and convincing from a friend made the Richfield native realize he missed the game he had been a part of for a majority of his life.

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In his freshman season at Hamline, Freese appeared at linebacker in two games for a 1-9 Piper team. During the season, Freese realized he missed playing hockey, a sport he had played since childhood.

Once his decision was made to head back to the ice, Freese often played pick-up hockey over the summer with longtime friend and Alexandria Blizzard forward Mick Dhein. During these sessions, Dhein continually tried to sell Freese on making his comeback with the Blizzard. Finally he agreed, and both traveled up to Alexandria for a tryout.

“I kind of pulled his arm a little bit and got him here,” Dhein said. “He did well in the tryout and everything’s worked out so far.”

After making the team, Freese has played in 12 of the Blizzard’s 14 as a defenseman this season. He has scored one goal and has two assists in those 12 games.

“It’s great,” Freese said. “I’m glad I came back to hockey.”

Although he has played the game his whole life, Freese admitted he needed time early in the hockey playing process to get back into shape. Blizzard head coach Jeff Crouse said Freese is a talented player who is still building up to his full potential on the ice.

“I’m thinking when Christmas break rolls around and we get some games under his belt he could be a really good player for us,” Crouse said.

Freese had some pressure to stay at Hamline and try to play both hockey and football. When he told a Hamline football coach about leaving the program, he tried to convince Freese to stay and try hockey there.

“He was kind of rattled,” he said. “He wanted me to tryout at Hamline and try and do both. But I wasn’t at that level to play (hockey) at Hamline yet.”

Freese still might have a future on the football field. After a season with the Blizzard, his goal is to find a Division III school where he can play both football and hockey. Many of the colleges in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference have both hockey and football, and Freese said St. Thomas and St. John’s are the two universities he would like to attend.

But if he had to choose hockey or football, it would be no contest.

“Hockey’s my first goal,” Freese said.

Although Dhein and Freese have been friends their whole lives and even live together in Alexandria, there was a period of time when they barely spoke to each other while playing for rival high schools. When it was time to decide the schools they would attend, Freese chose local private school Holy Angels, while Dhein stuck with Richfield’s hometown public school.

“We were on separate paths then, and kind of just reunited and started playing hockey again,” Dhein said. “It’s been fun.”

Dhein even tried to get Freese onto the Blizzard roster last season, but he decided to finish his freshman year of classes at Hamline. Now they both are once again playing on the same roster.

“He would always try and tell me to come up and play in Alexandria,” Freese said. “Finally I gave in, and it was the best choice of my life.”

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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