Junior Cam Briere scores during the Ponies home opener against Park. Briere moved back to Minnesota to play high school hockey for the Stillwater Ponies.

Photo by Hunter Reardon

Junior Cam Briere scores during the Ponies home opener against Park. Briere moved back to Minnesota to play high school hockey for the Stillwater Ponies.

Briere returns to Stillwater for hockey

January 19, 2022

Junior Cam Briere has returned to play high school hockey. Briere had the option to play Junior Hockey, but playing high school hockey has been a dream of his since childhood.

Briere moved from Minnesota to Canada in 2015 after his father was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs as a goalie coach. Briere played minor hockey in Canada and eventually joined the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), playing for Mississauga.  In 2020, Briere moved to Nashville, Tennessee to play in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League for the Nashville Jr. Predators. 

Briere said it was scary as it was his first time moving away from home to play hockey. Fortunately, he fit in very well with the team and ended up making long-term friendships. 

Briere moved back to Minnesota for the 2021-22 season to play high school hockey for Coach Greg Zanon and the Stillwater Ponies. He had previously played mite hockey with some of his teammates prior to moving to Canada, but for the most part, he was the new guy on the team.

“He fits right in with everyone,” senior captain Bo Dustin said.

“He’s just become one of the guys,” junior assistant captain Ty Tuccitto added.

Team chemistry is a very important aspect of hockey. It is very apparent to a team’s success and can ultimately make or break a team. Finding that chemistry is not always easy, but the Ponies appear to be on the right track.

“When you’re playing for the person next to you and not you, it just elevates your game that much and it makes you a better player,” Tuccitto said.

Behind every successful team, there are good coaches. And according to his players, Zanon is one of the best.  Zanon’s name is spread around the rink with nothing but goodwill and high praise.  Players, parents and other coaches all speak highly of Coach Zanon and commend him on his solid approach to developing well-rounded, successful athletes both on and off the ice.  He really cares about his players and takes the time to create personal connections with them that boost trust and confidence.

He plays the game like nobody I’ve seen at this level.”

— Coach Greg Zanon

“It’s just the communication,” Zanon said. “We voice our opinion and we have that open door and I think it allows them to feel comfortable. And uncomfortable…I don’t think you can play to your best ability if you’re always playing outside your own skin. Allowing them to be open and you know, we joke around a lot, but I think they know at the same time when I’m serious, I’m serious, and it’s time to buckle down and I think that allows us to be comfortable and be able to play to our best.”

Briere brings a lot of experience to the Ponies team. He was invited to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) Evaluation Camp, and went on to play in the 2021 Five Nations Tournament in Switzerland scoring 2 goals and 1 assist in three games to help his team to a first-place finish. 

“When people see someone else who is better, who has done it or can take that next step, it obviously shows them that, ‘that is what I have to do’ and it elevates practice,” Tuccitto said.

Everyone wanted to see if they could beat him because “we’ve never had a guy like that,” Dustin added.

There is no question that Briere is a very talented, skilled, and smart player. He announced his commitment to the University of Nebraska Omaha in early August 2021. Until then, he’s going to make his mark with the Ponies.

“He plays the game like nobody I’ve seen at this level. I think he has all the tools and tangibles to play in the NHL, that’s for sure,” Zanon said.

On the topic of how far Briere wanted to take his hockey career, it’s no surprise that his response was: “All the way.”

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