Insider look: Freshman forward Hunter Friesen takes viewers behind the scenes of ASU club hockey on YouTube

Hunter Friesen hopes his unique YouTube videos inspire a new wave of content creators within the hockey world. (Photo by Daniella Trujillo/Cronkite News)

TEMPE — The life of an athlete is quite different from that of a regular college student.

In addition to keeping their grades up, young adults must also adhere to strict training regimens to stay in peak shape. It’s a routine that most people don’t fully understand, mainly due to a lack of exposure and insight into the day-to-day life of a collegiate athlete.

However, with the rise of social media, these stories are being unearthed more and more. Over 60% of adults aged 18-29 use popular content creation platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, according to the Pew Research Center. One athlete who began using social media to share his experiences is Hunter Friesen, a freshman forward on Arizona State’s Division I club hockey team who posts his content on a personal YouTube channel.

“I’m in school, obviously I’m in hockey, and there’s not many creators out there that film that stuff,” Friesen said. “So I’m kind of trying to be that guy to showcase that lifestyle and whatever that comes with.”

Accruing over 3,200 subscribers and 290,000 views on YouTube less than two years since creating his channel, it’s safe to say that viewers are intrigued by Friesen’s story.

Through YouTube videos, ASU freshman Hunter Friesen brings to light the experiences and routines of athletes as a member of the club hockey team. (Photo by Daniella Trujillo/Cronkite News)

Through YouTube videos, ASU freshman Hunter Friesen brings to light the experiences and routines of athletes as a member of the club hockey team. (Photo by Daniella Trujillo/Cronkite News)

Like most college and professional players, Friesen began his hockey career at a young age. Starting at 15 years old, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native left home to play in various elite programs and leagues, like Shattuck St. Mary’s School in Minnesota, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League — the latter two being Canadian Junior “A” leagues, the best available below-major junior leagues that host Canada’s most elite prospects.

In May 2022, during his time with the United States Premier Hockey League Premier’s Richmond Generals, Friesen’s content creation career took off. He, his brother and friends were set to take a 10-day trip to Costa Rica, which provided him a good reason to bring a camera.

“I’ve kind of always wanted to start (recording videos),” Friesen said. “That was just a little excuse to start and kind of film that trip with my best friends. And then it just took off from there.”

Following the vacation, Friesen bought a Sony Alpha 6400 — a more advanced camera than the one he previously had — to shoot his videos and began documenting his life as a junior hockey player. So it was only natural that when he decided to commit to ASU’s club hockey team, he would bring his camera along to capture a new chapter in his career.

While the Sun Devils field an NCAA Division I hockey squad that competes against some of the nation’s best programs, they also have three levels of club teams that compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, an organization of over 461 colleges and 13,000 players across the United States and Canada. There are a few main differences between the NCAA and ACHA, namely that the former allows scholarships while the latter does not.

“We’re getting most of our kids out of junior hockey, which is 16-to-20-year-olds,” ASU Division I coach Austin Cline said. “Where we’re getting those guys is Junior A leagues in Canada and throughout the U.S. … And obviously, the NCAA, there’s scholarships and whatnot. We’re fully funded by the player dues and different fundraising.”

While it isn’t an NCAA-sponsored sport, the workload required of club hockey players is nonetheless quite rigorous. For ASU’s players, this means three on-ice practices and two workouts per week throughout a 32-game season.

Due to the sheer amount of time spent around the rink and teammates, giving outsiders a look into the club hockey grind was a no-brainer for Friesen. In addition to showing great promise in his first season in Tempe, logging nine points in 21 games, he’s been able to capture several fun aspects of playing in the ACHA. With half a season under his belt, Friesen has posted videos about his team’s raucous rivalry game against Arizona and a trip to Chicago for the 2023 Chicago Classic, a four-day event that saw ASU face club teams from across the nation. These, of course, are in addition to videos about his day-to-day life as a student-athlete.

Hunter Friesen's YouTube venture began with a 10-day trip to Costa Rica, where discovered a passion for content creation. (Photo by Daniella Trujillo/Cronkite News)

Hunter Friesen’s YouTube venture began with a 10-day trip to Costa Rica, where discovered a passion for content creation. (Photo by Daniella Trujillo/Cronkite News)

Naturally, suddenly being in front of a camera was initially jarring for some of Freisen’s peers. However, thanks to the freshman’s lighthearted personality, his teammates and coaches alike were supportive of him archiving their experience.

“It was a weird and awkward thing,” freshman forward Carter Newlin said. “A lot of guys got it, some guys didn’t get it, and it was like a weird thing. But I think when everyone bought in and was just like, ‘Hey, it’s just another way for us to become closer and a better hockey team,’ I think it really did benefit us, and we have fun with it and it’s really cool. It’s a cool thing for our hockey team.”

When it comes to his career goals, Friesen aims to eventually play professional hockey while continuing to hone his craft behind a camera, as the film industry has ample financial opportunity. But most importantly, he wants to shed some more light on the hockey world, a sphere he called an “unhit market” due to the lack of content creators involved with the sport.

After all, hockey is played around the world and is a sport that many people enjoy and have connections to. By posting his own experience of playing competitive hockey, Friesen’s channel can be used as a springboard to inspire more behind-the-scenes content in the hockey world.

“I know a couple creators out there that do hockey, like hockey content,” Friesen said. “I get a lot of (direct messages of) people wanting to start videoing themselves (on) YouTube or Tiktok, whatever it is. So I am seeing a growth in the space.”

Sean Brennan(he/him/his)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Sean Brennan expects to graduate in May 2025 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Brennan is a football, hockey and baseball writer for Walter Cronkite Sports Network and has interned with the California Collegiate League.

Daniella Trujillo(she/her/hers)
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Daniella Trujillo expects to graduate in spring 2025 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in digital audiences. Trujillo has interned as a sports photographer and videographer for BJ Media.