Photo by Rena Laverty
USA Hockey National Team Development Program forward Caden Brown had not one but two major influences growing up in St. Louis who helped him develop his passion and love for hockey.
“My dad [Jeff] and my brother [Logan], who is playing in the AHL right now and hopefully the NHL soon, have been big influences in my hockey career,” said Brown, who started playing hockey when he was 2 years old. “They always told me to play hard and have fun. As long as you are having fun, then you will be enjoying the game. If you want to play hockey, you will have to put in the work.”
Brown’s dad Jeff, who spent 13 seasons in the NHL, has always offered not only lessons, but also moral support for Caden. Caden has always used that as his motivation to improve each and every day.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“My dad has always played a big role in my life,” Brown said. “We were living in St. Louis and my dad got me into it. He really helped me become the player that I am today.
“He coached my brother [Logan] growing up. I always wanted my dad to coach me, too. I got to watch my brother develop as a player and it always gave me motivation to get better.
“My dad coached me in my U14 and 16 years. After games, we always get a chance to talk and he can give me advice. He is living here with me now and it’s been great that he’s here. He can really help me, and I appreciate that.”
Meanwhile, the Brown brothers played numerous games of shinny with younger brother Caden always hoping to earn some respect.
“My brother is five years older,” Brown said. “We used to play shinny hockey and he would usually make me play in goal. It was always fun when I would stop the puck on him, but it was a great time when I could score on him.”
Hockey has always been a huge part of the Brown household. Even though Jeff was retired from playing, he was still coaching the sport.
“We lived in St. Louis until I was 10,” Brown said. “We moved to Ottawa for three years because my dad was coaching in the OHL. Then, we moved back to St. Louis from 14-16 until I came to play for the NTDP."
The NTDP has given Brown the unique opportunity to wear the USA jersey each and every day. It is something that he takes a lot of pride in and will not take for granted.
“It means everything,” he said. “I got to watch my brother grow up and play for Team USA at the U18 Worlds and the World Juniors. It gave me motivation to make the NTDP. It is an honor to represent the country.
“It was definitely surreal to walk into the locker room for the first time and see the jerseys hanging up. I can’t even explain what it felt like. It’s just so special to put on the jersey.”
The 5-foot-11, 174-pound forward finished his first season with the Under-17 Team with seven goals and 20 points in 40 games. He credits the U17 coaching staff — John Wroblewski, Dan Hinote and Mike Leone — for their instruction in practice and helping him grow his “strength and my skill side of the game.”
“The game felt so quick at first — you are 16 and playing in the USHL,” Brown said. “Every day in practice, you are playing with the best players and that helps you get better. You battle and go hard, and work on doing all the little things to get better.
“Coach Wrobo, Coach Leo and Coach Hinote definitely are good coaches. You put in long hours at the rink and have two-hour practices. At first you are not ready for that, since you don’t know what to expect. You get tired but it really helps that you have your teammates to help you battle through.”
He credits this relationship in really helping the team grow and have success throughout their first year with the program.
“The boys really bonded together,” said Brown. “When we went on our run, it was all about the team and not the individual guys. The boys did what we needed to do to win. We pushed each other and gave us extra motivation to hit our stride.”
Brown does have one favorite memory from the year. “Our first time in Russia at the Four Nations in December,” he said.
It was all about sharing that experience with his team.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“Winning the gold there was huge,” Brown said. “We had lost to Russia at the U17 World Challenge, and we just knew that we were willing to put in the work and the details to get the gold medal. It was so much fun.”
Right now, Brown is focused on his summer training and is ready to return to Plymouth, ready to go for his final season with the NTDP. He understands the formula that is needed for the team to continue having success.
“I am training in St. Louis with my trainer Jeff LoVecchio,” he said. “The biggest thing, not only for me but our team, is that we need to keep our bodies right. We have to eat healthy, get sleep and work hard so we are ready to go for our U18 year and hopefully win gold at the U18 worlds.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.