Manning the blue line
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
Photos: Providence College Athletics
Most freshman are just happy to get a few games there first year when they step on a college campus. Coming from high school, where they are the best at their position, freshman season is normally a wake up call.
They are learning the ropes of what it’s like to be a college athlete, and a student-athlete. They are also learning that what they did in high school really doesn’t mean much, because there are a number of players that are just as good at their position.
When Providence College junior hockey player Brooke Becker stepped on campus a couple of years ago she didn’t know what to expect. She didn’t know how many games she would get into, or even if she would play at all, for the nationally ranked Friars.
Not, only did she play her freshman year, Becker skated in all 21 games that season and provided 14 points. It was just a springboard for what Becker was going to do. Last year, Becker was a force on the blue line for the Friars, skating in 35 games with 12 points.
“I think my freshman year was awesome, because I got to play a lot,” stated Becker. “That’s not what a lot of freshmen get to do. I was able to get a lot of experience up front.”
While the offensive stats are the first thing that will jump out at you, it’s the number of block shots she had the past couple years that’s most impressive. Becker doesn’t mind getting dirty in the areas that a defenseman does.
Over the past two years, the Orchard Park native has blocked a total of 58 shots. We know the goaltender has appreciated the fact that Becker has thrown her body in the front of the puck that many times over the past two season.
It’s just the type of player Becker is. She just doesn’t want to be know as someone who will light up the scoresheet on the offensive end, but she wants to known as an all-around defenseman. That’s her mindset in the offseason as she continues to work o
n her game every single day.
“Just moving forward I knew that I had to become more of an offensive power, and keep my game where it needs to be defensively,” stated Becker. “I have been doing a lot of footwork. A lot of extra work up on the blue line to help my offensive game was key. Just small details have helped make me a better player.”
Becker, however, is still expected to jump in the play. She just has to know when to go and when to stay back. That is the biggest adjustment for any defenseman at any level of play. It’s a little bit easier growing up, because you may be the best player on the ice.
But, as the competition gets tougher, the decision making has to be better. That is one thing that Becker has worked on is when to jump up with the rush better, and more often.
“I think there are a lot of things that play into that,” stated Becker. “Depends on who you are playing. How you feel physically., how you are feeling mentality. Confidence is another thing. It’s been huge for me, just knowing that I can do it. Again, you have to know who you are playing, and who offensively is coming at you - and whether or not you go up or back off.”
Being able to play early gave Becker a lot of confidence early on in her college career. It showed her that she could play with some of the top players in the country, and even in her own league - where Hockey East is no joke.
It also allowed her to find herself as a player. It gave her a chance to work on the things that she felt she needed to work on, during the offseason, to be successful as her caster continues.
“It definitely helped. It helped a lot,” stated Becker. “Coming in during a Covid year it was kind of chaotic. Being able to play it really gave me the confidence that I needed, especially after having a tough couple of months (because of civid) beforehand. It just helped so much tremendously.”
Becker is no slouch to winning. It seems like whatever team she has been on they would win. Whether that was her high school team win a state title and three Federation titles, to her travel teams with Stoney Brooke and the Buffalo Bisons, Becker has just had that winning mentality.
She is the first one, however, to deflect all the praise that might be put upon her. Yes, she was named Player of the Year three years in a row, but each team she gads been on has shaped her in different ways.
Becker has learned so much from player with different type of players from Orchard Park, Stony Brooke and the Bisons. Those players, and coaches, have helped her become the person she is today.
“Everyone I have met have helped a long the way,” stated Becker. “All of the teams I have played for have prepared me in some type of way for what I am doing now. Whether that be Orchard Park, where we had girls from other schools. That helped me prepare for that. The Stoney Creek team I played for my senior year helped me see what a college format would look like. It was more college format based. When I grew up playing for the Bisons that was more of girls coming from all over the place, and brining different skills to the table.”
Becker’s skills are on display every single weekend when she hits the ice with her teammates. Hockey East is loaded with top talent on every single team, and the Friars have been able to hold their own.
As of this writing, the 13th ranked Friars are 19-9-4 and 14-7-4 in Hockey East. There are no easy games, including a tough 3-1 win over Holy Cross this past Friday afternoon.
“There are some schools that are more skilled than others, but there are also a lot of hard working teams too,” stated Becker. “I would say it’s probably the most competitive league in hockey, right now. Every team, every year gets better and better, and brings more to the table. Whether that would be skill, or speed, or just the drive to be better.”