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The Drill: Van Briesen to provide junior leadership for WHS hockey

Caden Van Briesen of the Worthington High School boys hockey team is hopes to help the inexperienced squad get the most of what it's got

Worthington Trojans boys hockey player Caden Van Briesen skates down the ice during a practice session.
Worthington Trojans boys hockey player Caden Van Briesen skates down the ice during a practice session.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- It’s going to be an interesting boys hockey season for the Worthington Trojans this winter, and one of the most intriguing things about it might be the fact that they will be led by juniors.

This is one of those rare years where seniors are absent -- graduated, in fact. The juniors dominate. And a few of them have minimal varsity experience.

That’s not to say that the Trojans, who went 12-14 in 2021-22 with a senior-dominated team, aren’t planning to have a successful season. It’s just that they’ll be learning along the way -- which might, of course, prove frustrating at times. But in the end, head coach Tyler Nienkerk hopes to have a finished product.

With this in mind, it might be possible to say that the Trojans’ most finished product is junior center Caden Van Briesen. He’s a leader. And he’s already been around the block (or in this case, the ice) a few times. He can skate. He can score. And he loves the sport.

He’s also a strong defender of the team’s reputation. Whereas people from the outside, looking in, might question Worthington’s competitiveness this winter, Van Briesen says they needn’t be too concerned.

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“This year I think the team is looking better than everyone thought that we would,” he said during a pre-season practice break. “You know, we lost a lot of seniors last year, but I think we’re going to go into the season pretty strong. Yeah, I think the team is a little inexperienced because we have a lot of kids moving up that haven’t played varsity hockey before. As a leader, I just gotta push everyone to try to do their best even if it doesn’t really go their way. Just putting everything we’ve got out there.”

Van Briesen began playing hockey when he was in the third grade. He said the hardest thing about hockey, at first, was getting used to the skating part. He wasn’t so good at skating when he was a little tyke, he recalled, and he also had to work at learning how to wield a stick.

MORE HOCKEY
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WORTHINGTON -- Morris-Benson started well in both games, sweeping the Worthington Trojans girls and boys hockey teams on Saturday.

Today, he counts both his skating speed and his stick-handling as his two best qualities as a player. He said he learned best how to be a hockey player just by putting 100 percent into every drill that he was asked to do. And though he didn’t score a lot of goals last year, he’s hoping to become more of a scorer this year. He sees himself as a playmaker, and he’s anxious to prove it both with his passes and his shooting.

Caden Van Briesen is this week’s Globe Drill subject. You can see a video of Caden on the Globe website at www.dglobe.com . Here’s a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: Have you got a special sports memory you’d like to share? Something that you might never forget?

ANSWER: “Something I’ll always remember is about two years ago when we were just messing around on the ice, just playing around, I got cut on my torso right here (he points to his left side) by a skate. And it was pretty bad. I had to go get stitches. … It happened, we were just playing one-on-one, with one of my teammates, and then we just both kind of got tangled up. And we both went down, and his skate flew up and cut me and I had about 5-6 stitches, I think.”

QUESTION: Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.

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ANSWER: “So my mom gave me the nickname Bugabear when I was just a little kid. And she’s been calling me that ever since. And none of my teammates really know -- maybe just like one or two of them -- but no, they don’t call me that.”

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QUESTION: Tell us about some of your interests outside of sports.

ANSWER: “Outside of hockey I really enjoy weightlifting and hanging out with my friends, having a good time. What’s so fun about weightlifting, I just decided to pick up the weights about a year and a half ago, and I started seeing progress. And I just didn’t want to stop.”

Related Topics: THE DRILLHOCKEY
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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