Photo by Rena Laverty
Sean Behrens’ hometown Chicago Blackhawks and his dad Kyle each played key roles in introducing him to the game of hockey.
Once he started playing, he was hooked.
“I started playing when I was 4 years old,” explained Behrens. “My dad was the one who got me started on the ice and then, I started in a learn-to-skate program. My dad played in college and he wanted me to play, too.
“I loved the fast-paced action of hockey. I grew up watching the Blackhawks, too. I loved watching [Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick] Kane play. They really helped me grow my love for the game.”
Even though he loved watching a pair of elite forwards in Toews and Kane, manning the blue line ended up being the calling for Behrens.
“I started out playing forward until I was 9 years old,” the Barrington, Illinois, native explained. “My dad then made me a defenseman. We didn’t have enough D on our team — we only had three. I went back there, and I just loved it. It has really worked out.
“I really like being able to see the ice and read the play in front of me. I can still join the rush and get involved in the offensive zone.”
Kyle Behrens served as Sean’s coach for nine years. It isn’t always easy, but Behrens wouldn’t change it for anything.
“He coached me from when I first started until I was 13,” said Behrens. “It was a fun experience. Obviously, there were some ups and downs, but it was great to have someone at home who could teach and support you. He really helped grow my love of the game. I’m thankful that I grew up in a hockey household.”
Along the way, Behrens’ dad also taught him a valuable lesson that he still carries with him today.
“Always have fun,” Behrens said. “It doesn’t mean you will not work hard but you want to have fun while you are doing it. If you are able to have fun in practice and work hard, then you will be ready to play.”
When Behrens earned an invite to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Top 40 Camp, he turned to 2018-20 NTDP player Landon Slaggert for some advice.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“I definitely asked Landon questions, especially about the Top 40 Camp,” Behrens said. “It was mostly what I needed to do and the expectations. I did ask him about the interviews since I had never really had that experience before.”
The 5-foot-11, 183-pound blueliner not only made the team but excelled during his first year. One thing he credits is his vision on the ice in helping him with his game.
“It really has come natural to me,” explained Behrens. “It’s something that I practice a lot, learning how to find guys. If you can make the plays in practice, it will translate to the game. That is really important.
“You watch film, which really allows you to see the plays, both good and bad, and how you can improve on the ice. You are able to see your own mistakes and learn from it. You know what to watch for so you don’t make those same mistakes, and it really allows you to fix it.”
Photo by Rena Laverty
Behrens finished with seven goals and 40 points in 51 games, including playing up with the U18 team for six games, tallying one goal and three points. He took away some important lessons from his brief stint, especially after the season was cut short.
“It was a great experience to move up with the U18s,” said Behrens. “It was special to be able to play with them but also to learn and grow with them. Jake Sanderson and Jacob Truscott were really good to me. I got to see how hard they work and what they do each day as they want to play in the NHL.
“One of the lessons that I took away is that you don’t want to take anything for granted. You just don’t know when your last game or your last practice will be. You have to work hard every day.”
He realizes how much the hard work paid off, especially after the U17s captured the Four Nations title in Russia, way back in December.
“Winning the game against Russia was the highlight [a 6-0 win],” said Behrens. “It was our first international tournament success and we played a good game. It was a fun trip back, even though it took 23 hours or so to get back to Plymouth. Having the trophy and being with the boys made it that much better.”
At the end of the day, there is one thing that matters the most to Behrens and that is being able to represent his country and wear the red, white and blue.
“It’s an honor to wear it every day, even if it is just for practice,” Behrens said. “You don’t realize how cool it is until you get to do it and represent your country, especially in international play. It’s just as important in USHL play but in international play, the stakes are a little higher.”
Those stakes are what push Behrens and his teammates each and every day.
“We need to push each other and work hard in practice,” he said. “We want to continue to engage each other to get better. Our goal is to have that success in April at U18 Worlds.
“I plan to work out every day at home this summer and will be doing the little stuff, such as shooting and off-ice work. I have more time to work out and I plan to spend the time on getting better.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.