Paul Frys played against Lake Tahoe last season. He tortured the Icemen and especially head coach Mickey Lang with his ability.
Frys scored 74 points last year with the Vancouver Rangers and Lang felt like the majority came against his Icemen.
But when Frys' team folded after the season, Lang spent this past summer convincing the Portland, Oregon native he should come play in South Lake Tahoe.
"It was a long process, I had to beg him to come here," Lang said Tuesday at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena after practice. "After playing against him so many times last year, I didn't want to go through that again. We got talking and communicating and fortunately it worked out and he came here."
Lang said Frys had his choice of where to play. Every team was after him.
"All summer Mickey was asking, begging for me to come," Frys said. "And I wasn't sure if I was going to go to college or not. But I finally decided to come here. It's beautiful. It's by far the best place to live in this league."
Frys was worth every bit of effort Lang spent.
In 51 games, the forward upped his game from his time with the Rangers. He scored 51 goals and had 68 assists and was the seventh leading scorer in the Western States Hockey League with 119 points, an average of 2.33 points per game.
He helped the Icemen earn the No. 2 seed out of the Northwest Division and a first round bye in the playoffs that start this weekend. The Icemen will host a three-game series in the second round from Friday, March 23, through Sunday, March 25.
"No. 1, Paul is the best person I've coached in awhile," Lang said. "I'd put him in the same category as Phil Heisse, who's been here a few years. He's here everyday working hard and in my opinion he's the most skilled forward in the league. We're lucky to have him. It's almost like starting ahead 2-0 when you have him on your team."
Lang said Frys is great at possessing the puck, seeing the ice, knowing how to score and making his teammates better. Those skills helped Frys end the regular season with a 30-game scoring streak.
And although Frys thinks about the streak, he's much more concerned with team results.
"I try not to think about it. I try to go out there and take it one shift at a time," Frys said. "My teammates have done a great job helping me out. They found puck on my tape and I buried. We've had some good chemistry and hopefully we keep it going. But right now it's playoffs, I don't care about the streak as long as we win."
Frys has had a hockey stick in his hands since he was 2. He had a brother who was 15 years older and he remembers being at every one of his games "running around with his little hockey stick."
He played youth hockey with the Portland Junior Hawks and graduated from Sunset High School in 2015.
Frys, along with most of his teammates, live with host families in Tahoe. The players pay a modest monthly fee and in turn they are fed and get a place to stay.
"They feed us, give us a bed and they support us through hockey. They're great people," Frys said.
When Frys isn't on the ice practicing, he hangs outs with teammates playing video games or grabs his skis and hits the slopes.
He went to community college online last fall so next year he plans to be playing for a school on the East Coast. He says he has a few options to play at the division III level. Eventually he'd love to play professionally and keep that stick in his hands as long as possible.
"The NHL, that might be tough, but you gotta chase your dreams," Frys said. "Hockey is basically my life, I love it."