Last season Joe Freemark broke his ankle and was off the ice for a majority of the year.
With time, he has regained the play that his Lakeville South teammates and coaches have become accustom to.
Against Stillwater, he showed he is fact back with a hat trick in the Cougars 6-3 victory.
"I've been confident and I haven't even thought about my ankle," Freemark said. "That hasn't been an issue at all. Today, the shots were just there and I wasn't going to pass them up."
Passing is something Freemark has done a lot of for the Cougars since he began his varsity career.
At the defense position, he is often the one to set up teammates with passes, especially when there is Justin Kloos, who already has 10 goals this season.
Freemark only had a goal coming into the Schwan Cup quarterfinals, but he was aggressive from the start and it helped the Cougars advance in the Silver Division.
When shots were there, he took them without hesitation.
"That was something we told him we wanted more of," Cougars coach Kurt Weber said. "Earlier this year, I think he was waiting back a little too much and we told he we wanted him to be more aggressive.
"You could see how good he can be when he gets confidence. Joe scored three and could have four or five and you could see that he was hungry for more."
In the third period, Freemark completed the hat trick, which more importantly gave Lakeville South a 3-1 lead.
It may not have been the type of play Freemark has done a lot of this season, but it could be a sign of things to come as his scoring touch develops.
While the Cougars were on the power play, he stepped in from the point position, received a pass from Kloos and fired a quick wrist shot over the left leg pad of Ponies goalie Blake Cates, and into the lower left corner.
"It's nice to see him shooting the puck hard, " Kloos said. "Before, he was throwing muffins and the net, now he is getting something behind them.
"A lot of that is just him being confident in his play and he was today."
Freemark now has four goals on the season, but said he will take what is given to him when it comes to his offensive output and not put his team in danger of allowing goals just to score one himself.
"It was there today, so I took my shots," he said. "It might not be there every game, so you can't just force it all the time.
"I'm a defenseman, so I have my responsibilities there, too."
Since starting the season 0-2, Lakeville South has won its last five and has outscored the opposition 35-8.
Averaging seven goals a game, the Cougars seem to score at will of late and it has correlation to what their opponents have to do.
"We score in bunches and I think it puts a lot of pressure on who we play," Freemark said. "When we score three or four goals in a period, they have to adjust the way they play and it allows us more chances to score as well."
In the third period, the Cougars came in with a 2-1 lead.
One of the last things Stillwater probably wanted to get into was a shootout with Lakeville South, trying to match it goal for goal.
However, that is what happened and as the previous four teams couldn't do, the Ponies could not catch up either.
"I'm just happy we are putting the puck in the net," Weber said. "I am really happy we were able to do it against a great goalie in Blake Cates.
"If we are able to do that against him, that means we must have done something pretty good today."
More so, it is a run that is pretty impressive that has lasted most of the season.
Joe Freemark scored three goal for Lakeville South as the Cougars defeated Stillwater 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the Schwan Cup Silver Division on Monday, Dec. 26 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine.
Cougars forward Justin Kloos recorded three assists, all on Freemark goals.
Michael Chuinard also had a multi-point game for the Cougars, scoring a goal and adding an assist.
Stillwater's offense came from Jeff Flicker, who scored twice, once on the power play in the second period, which tied the game at one.
In the third period, Flicker put away his second of the game on a delayed penalty, when he took a pass from Nick Anderson and one-timed it in to cut the lead to 4-2.
Freemark scored his first goal early in the second period on the power play, when he put away Kloos' shot that rang off the post.
Flicker tied it up when he scored from in tight on the power play as well.
Late in the second, Freemark struck again, this time his shot hit a Ponies play on the way to the net and fluttered over Stillwater goalie Blake Cates' shoulder for a 2-1 Lakeville South lead.
In the third, Freemark gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead when he slipped in a shot just over the left pad of Cates on the power play.
Lakeville South continued to pressure Stillwater, and it got rewarded when Justin Doeden went to the net and was able to tap in a loose puck near the crease, which resulted in a 4-1 Cougars lead.
Flicker scored to cut the lead to two, but Chuiard backhanded a beautiful shot over Cates' shoulder right after to give the Cougars their three-goal lead back.
Devin Cates scored with 2:17 left for the Ponies, but Stilwater pulled Cates for an extra skater and, moments later, Grant Gangness scored into an empty net.
With the win, Lakeville South advances to the Silver Division semifinals against Breck on Tuesday at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine.
Stillwater drops its second straight game and plays Apple Valley in th consolation semifinals on Tuesday at the Schwan Super Rink.
1. Joe Freemark, Lakeville South
A defenseman, Freemark had scored just once all season before scoring the Cougars' first three goals against the Ponies. He scored twice in the second period and again in the third.
2. Justin Kloos, Lakeville South
Known more for his prolific goal scoring, Kloos focused on finding Freemark and notched three assists. Kloos usedhis speed to elude Ponies defensemen all game.
3. Jeff Flicker, Stillwater
Flicker scored twice, the first coming on a drive to the net where he knocked in a shot through traffic. Flicker's second goal came in the third period, when he ripped in a shot from the slot after Nick Anderson found him all alone.