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Brooke Becker, one of the nation's best, skates for FLOP

Brooke Becker is blazing her own trail as a historic figure in the Western New York Girls Varsity Hockey Federation, even though she is kind of following her father’s footsteps at the same time.

Like her dad Patrick, she’s not just an exceptional hockey player, she’s a Division I talent. She will be heading to her father’s alma mater, Providence, on scholarship once she graduates from Orchard Park. And like her dad, she’s playing ...

Hold up.

While Brooke has the scoring touch of a forward, she plays defense for defending Section VI, New York State and WNY Federation champion Fronter/Lake Shore/Orchard Park – aka FLOP. Patrick, on the other hand, was a forward who played professionally in Europe after his time at Providence.

What gives?

“I think it just came more natural to me,” said Brooke of playing defense. “I have a good connection to goalies and I always like to defend, but I’m an offensive defenseman so I still get the same aspect of forward.”

Becker ranks second in league in points but is tops among defensemen with 17 points. She’s second in goals but leads defensemen with 11 for a FLOP crew that has opened the season with seven wins and a tie in eight games.

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While she puts up the numbers of a forward, there’s no mistaking that she’s one of the top defensemen in the country. Becker was among 18 players selected to the 2018-19 All-USA Preseason All-American Team.

Becker, who also plays elite travel hockey with the Buffalo Bisons’ 19-under team and had 55 points in 40 games, is the first WNY Federation player to earn the honor, much like she’s the first in the Fed to receive All-USA second-team honors last year.

“It’s a huge honor,” Becker said. “To even be thought of for that, it’s special. Like the championships, it doesn’t happen all the time. To be recognized for the hard work and dedication I have for the sport is really special.”

Becker is the second player in three years from Western New York to earn All-USA Preseason honors. Maureen Murphy, who now leads Providence in goals (19) and points (33), was a Preseason All-USA Team pick two years ago during her senior season at Shattuck St. Mary’s.

“It’s great for girls hockey in Western New York, it’s great for the league,” Section VI girls hockey chairman and Williamsville coach Rick Hopkins said. “It’s great to have a girl of that caliber in the league because sometimes the elite players can’t fit in playing for their high school team.”

The 5-foot-8 Becker is a smooth skater who rarely looks rattled on the ice. In addition to having great vision and hands, she’s a smart player with a hard shot.

She’s a game-changer.

She showed that last year in the state final four, scoring four goals in two games and shutting down the opposing teams’ top players during FLOP’s run to the state championship.

“She has incredible elusiveness,” FLOP coach Bob Klimowicz said. “She has a knack for getting away (from forecheckers). She can stop on a dime. She can cut on a dime. She just has incredible edge work. She’s able to get out of situations because of her skating ability.”

Becker has been a respected team leader since joining FLOP as an eighth grader, and has been even more so this season with five of team’s eight defensemen ninth-graders or younger. She’s been the rock of the blue line for a crew that’s a handful even though its reloaded on the fly.

“We lost six seniors and all of them I think went on to play Division III athletics (in college),” Becker said. “I’ve had to do a little more explaining and teaching on the ice just to help out. I just need to break down a play a little more how to do it.”

Becker is closing in on 100 career points. She has 86 (48 goals, 38 assists). While there are 11 or 12 members of this exclusive club in the Federation, she would be the first defenseman to achieve the feat.

The milestone is something to look forward to, but Becker’s focus is doing what she can to help her team continue to achieve success and improve as a player. After winning section and Federation postseason titles as a freshman, FLOP became the first Western New York Fed team to win sectionals, state and Federation last year.

She’s hoping to lead an encore performance once the Section VI Tournament begins Jan. 29. The state tournament is Feb. 8-9 at HarborCenter.

Reaching that tournament won’t be easy, especially with each of the seven Section VI playoff contenders possessing top-end talent. Williamsville (8-1-0) features Emma Roland (22 goals, 38 points), the top scorer in the league.

“It’s not something that happens all the time,” Becker said. “We hope to repeat that but last year was super special.”

The only thing missing from Becker’s resume is the chance to represent her country in a tournament. Becker is a two-time participant in the USA Hockey Select 66 Camp. She’s an alternate for the U.S. Under-18 women’s national team currently playing in the IIHF World Tournament in Japan. Katy Knoll of Nichols is an alternate captain on the U.S. team, which is vying for its fifth straight gold medal.

“I’m fortunate to be an alternate,” Becker said, “but I’m hoping next year (a roster spot) is something I can achieve.”

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