Tim Fragle is, amongst other things, a hockey fan.
He has played at various levels with various teams and when that was done playing, he continued being a hockey fan. His love of the game led him from Edmonton to Trail, B.C. to NAIT to the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Not only is he the coach and general manager of the Cru, he is currently an associate director of hockey at the Vimy Ridge High School campus. On top of this, he is also a dedicated father and husband. This dedication spills over into his passion for hockey.
This drive became obvious a while back. After promising to do an interview one morning, he called and I could hear his car engine running and the turn light blinking. I could just picture him sitting on the side of the road because he promised this reporter an interview about a Crusader game the night before. That is dedication. That is the moxy of not only a good team mate and coach, but a tried and true hockey fan.
When he talks about the Crusaders, he talks about them as a team.
He’s never one to call out a player, at least, not on my watch. When he was recently asked about what he would like most for his team, he answered altruistically, but also philosophically.
“I would like for them to have the confidence to score,” he said. “To stay the course and believe the things we are doing here.”
This isn’t a guy who is giving someone lip service. His words have the stink of time to them, of sweat, of emotional investment. Also, they have an intrinsic understanding of the game. An understanding that only someone who truly loves the game would have.
“With the amount of injuries and our No. 1 goalie being out for a while, we’ve been victimized a bit,” Fragle said. “We’ve also had some guys leave for the World Junior A and prospects game. We haven’t had a full deck of cards, I guess is what I’m trying to say. When we get a full deck and everyone is healthy and we don’t have guys sitting out that are important to our team, then I think we can really measure where our team is at.”
Fragle’s team is currently playing pretty well, considering what has happened to them over the past few months.
Losing key players to various circumstances, and if it weren’t for a couple of in-game braincramps, the team would be in a considerably better position that they are in, which actually isn’t that bad.
“One thing that I’ve learned in my history of coaching any team, I feel that my teams are always better after Christmas, so I think the Christmas break is going to be a good thing for our team,” he said. “The players can sit back and realize that we are in the thick of things when it comes to the league. We are a few points out of getting home ice in the first round, which is a good place to be in.
“All we want to do is give ourselves a chance to succeed, and that is what we are hoping for.”
The Cru currently sit one point out of sixth behind the Fort Mac Oil Barons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League North Division standings with 38 points.
If things go Fragle’s way, the post-Christmas Crusaders should be an exciting team to watch.