Fremont Tigers club coach Garrett Poland hasn’t been surprised by the team’s success this season in the Omaha High School Hockey League.
“I knew we had a good team,” Poland said. “We had good players and good pieces coming back from last year. I was pretty optimistic about it and I really looked forward to this season because I knew we had good talent.”
Fremont carried a 20-4-4 record into Wednesday night’s road game against Millard North. While results of that game weren’t available at press time, the Tigers are battling Tri-City out of Kearney for the top seed in next week’s postseason tournament.
Practices began in the fall with games running from November through this month. The majority of the players are from Fremont, but some are from surrounding communities, Poland said.
“It has been a fun process for me as a coach,” Poland said. “These kids are really committed to the season. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
The Tigers practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays with games scheduled on Wednesdays and Sundays. Many of the players are involved in other athletics at the prep level.
“We have a lot of football players on the team,” Poland said. “Some compete in baseball, soccer and other sports. At this level there are a few that specialize in hockey, but most are involved in other (athletics).”
One of those players in Payton Siemer. The junior at Fremont High also excels at golf.
“I like being on a winning team,” Siemer said. “We are pretty good and I like being around my friends and teammates. Plus, Coach G is a great coach.”
The Tigers are part of the Fremont Flyers youth hockey organization. There are various teams from 6-and-under all the way up to the Tigers.
“Our organization has grown every year and it continues to get bigger and bigger,” Poland said. “It has especially grown since Midland (University) got hockey about four years ago. We’ve seen more and more kids want to get involved and that has given us a boost.”
Siemer started playing when he was just 4. He also played on a youth team in Omaha before playing the last two years with the Tigers.
“We’ve all been around the rink for a good amount of time,” he said. “We all know each other really well and we’ve got some good athletes.”
Siemer is leading the OHSHL in goals scored (41) and points (60).
“He’s been our best player all year and has been a phenomenal addition for us,” Poland said. “Evan Bespoyasny has also been great as far as forwards go and Spencer Sorensen has also been playing amazing.
“On the back end, Nate Dillon has done great as a defenseman and our goalie Johnny Crump has really been playing well, too.”
Bespoyasny is second on the team in goals (19) while Sorensen is third (16). Lucas Parr and Carson Kosmicki have six goals apiece. Noah Franzen has four goals and 25 assists while Dillon has five goals and 14 assists.
Crump is 12-0-3 and has 212 saves while only allowing 19 goals.
Poland is assisted by Josh Obregon while Jessica Sandahl is the trainer.
“These kids have bought into what the coaches have taught them,” Poland said. “They’ve bought into being a cohesive unit. They take practice serious and they want to get better. We have really good volunteers and a great assistant coach and trainer. Our parental support has also been amazing.”
Poland said players compete because they have a love of the game.
“Our practices are hard and they know they are going to work their butts off,” he said. “They definitely have to have a passion for it.”
Poland, who is originally from Lincoln, has been involved with youth hockey in Fremont for four years. Prior to that he was coaching junior hockey in Texas.
“It is pretty much all I know,” he said. “I’ll continue doing it because I love the game of hockey.”
Poland said Fremont is fortunate to have a youth hockey program for preschoolers all the way through high school.
“It is pretty fantastic that Fremont has this,” he said. “It is pretty cool we have a place for kids of all skill levels and ages to play.”