Weekly Feature



2018-03-22 / Sports

FLOP’s Becker takes home Player of the Year honors

by TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Reporter


Brooke Becker carries the puck up the ice for the Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard girls hockey team during the Section VI Championship win over Williamsville in February. Becker was voted the All-Bee Player of the Year as a sophomore, after scoring 19 goals to lead her team to Section VI, New York State and Western New York Girls Hockey Federation titles. 
File photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Brooke Becker carries the puck up the ice for the Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard girls hockey team during the Section VI Championship win over Williamsville in February. Becker was voted the All-Bee Player of the Year as a sophomore, after scoring 19 goals to lead her team to Section VI, New York State and Western New York Girls Hockey Federation titles. File photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Brooke Becker has accomplished quite a bit for someone who is just a sophomore in high school.

The Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park defenseman has already helped lead her team to two Section VI Championships, two Western New York Girls Hockey Federation titles and a state championship and signed with a Division I program. Now, she’s the 2017-18 All-Bee Player of the Year.

More than anything, Becker values her team’s success.

“We did great,” Becker said. “At the beginning of the year we sat down and had a conversation like ‘this is what we want to do, this is how we want our season to go.’ We did exactly what we had planned. We won all three championships. That was amazing.”

Becker came up to the varsity team as an eighth-grader and was a solid contributor right away. Last season, as a freshman, she scored 12 goals and added 19 assists to finish among the league leaders with 31 points. She helped the team win the Section VI title, got a goal and an assist in a state semifinal win over Beekmantown and had three points in a Federation Championship win over Williamsville. Playing primarily with and against girls who were older than she did not intimidate her.

“It’s definitely about progressing and getting better,” Becker said. “I like playing with older girls too, I think it really helps to bring my game up. It helps from that standpoint, it helps the game being faster for like better hand-eye coordination and moving my feet faster, getting better.”

Becker continued her dominance into this season. She scored 19 goals to lead all defensemen, and finished with 28 points. She again stepped up when it mattered most, scoring two goals each in the state semifinal and final games. Then in the Federation final, showing off her versatility, she switched her focus to defense and shut down the league’s top-scoring team in Clarence/Amherst/Sweet Home.

“In the Federation championship, I think she was more focused on shutting down Emma Faso,” FLOP coach Bob Klimowicz said. “She didn’t have too many rushes. She was more focused on being that top defenseman, who was going to focus on shutting down the top forward in the league.”

Hockey has always been a part of Becker’s life. She started skating at age 2 and began playing just a few years after that. She’s played for the both the boys’ and girls’ Buffalo Bisons program. Through her years on the ice, she’s developed a broad set of skills. She’s a tremendous skater, has excellent vision and a dangerous shot from the point.

“She does everything well,” Klimowicz said. “She skates well, she’s one of the best skaters. She’s effortless when she skates, she has great edge-work so she can cut on a dime. When a defender is pressuring her on a forecheck, she has great edgework and great maneuverability to get away from that forecheck. She always has her head up when she’s skating, she has great vision out there. She, by far, has the best shot in the league. I always kidded with her that if she hit the net more, she’d have about 20 more goals because she has that many opportunities.”

Becker has parlayed her talents into a Division I scholarship. She verbally committed to Providence, a high-level program, during her freshman year. But she has some other big goals she wants to accomplish before college rolls around. Next weekend, she’ll attend a regional tryout for the U18 Women’s National Team. It’s a long process, involving regional, state and national qualifying rounds.

Her ultimate goal is to make the U18 team. She’s attended Select 66 camp in the past, which allowed her to skate with some of the current members of the national team. She closely watched the Team USA Olympic squad this year, which won a gold medal in dramatic fashion over Canada.

“It really inspires me,” Becker said. “I went to 66 camp last year, which is one of the first steps in the tryouts for the team. I met a lot of the girls who are on the team. It was really cool to see that they won a medal and were able to go overseas and win a medal.”

While her dreams are surely lofty, those around her believe she has the talent and determination to pull it off.

“What nobody sees is what she does off the ice,” Klimow- icz said. “I had the privilege of coaching her as a freshman, which is when she got the verbal commitment to Providence. If you would have come into our locker room, you would have no idea that she was a freshman. The girls look up to her, she’s a leader.”

But Becker isn’t solely focused on the future. She still does have two more years of high school hockey to play. She’ll be without many of FLOP’s top players from last season when the team takes the ice next winter. But she’s ready to shoulder that burden.

“I don’t know how much higher we can go, but for sure we want to try to keep up what we’ve been trying to do so far,” Becker said.

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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