Briggs Orr is a long way from his home of El Segundo, CA but St. Cloud, MN is becoming his second home as he’s been with the Norsemen for just over two months and is making the most of his new opportunity.
Orr joined the team in late January but has loved the new chapter in his hockey career. “It has been amazing. The team was super welcoming and I knew a few guys here already so that made it easier,” admits Orr. “I had known Kade Peterson from Northstar (Christian Academy) and trained with Tyler Dysart over the summer so those two helped make it a smooth transition.”
The Norsemen acquired Orr from the Minot Minotauros, where he played the first five months of the season, but he wasn’t getting a chance to consistently dress while he was in North Dakota. He appeared in 16 games for Minot in the first 38 games of the season. But since first dawning a Norsemen sweater on February 3rd, Orr has dressed in 19 of the 20 games St. Cloud has played.
St. Cloud Norsemen Assistant Coach Brock Kautz talks about what Orr has brought to St. Cloud. “I don’t know what happened where he was (in Minot) but I know he was excited to have a new opportunity,” explains Kautz. “With a young kid, there’s people who have more experience on the team and in my opinion he’s learned a lot from watching some of those players.”
If you haven’t gotten a chance to see much of Orr play, he knows his role and doesn’t try to get outside of his strengths. That’s particularly true because as a 2005 birth year, he is the youngest skater on the Norsemen that isn’t an Affiliate Player. “I would say I’m a hard-nosed, gritty player who tries to play a simple game,” Orr describes his play. “Nothing really flashy.”
While Orr just turned 18 a couple weeks ago, Kautz feels the defenseman plays a game that is beyond his years. “He plays a mature style of game, he’s strong, and he’s got a real knack for being a competitor,” compliments Kautz. “He takes a lot of pride in that and makes sure he’s strong and physical and wins his one-on-one battles. He’s definitely not afraid to get in your face if you do something. He’s been a hard worker for us and we’re pleased to have him.”
St. Cloud currently has eleven players born in 2002, which means they won’t be back in the NAHL or junior hockey at all as they age out at the end of the season. Orr being a 2005 in the lineup is incredibly valuable to the Norsemen as he may be a piece they look to build around in the future. “Obviously in junior hockey, ya never know how things will turn out and especially being Tier 2, there’s that dynamic of kids wanting to move up and play at a higher level and go to college,” Kautz points out. “We expect kids to be back but you know there’s a chance that they may not be. But if he’s back on our team, we’d be super excited to have him back and it would probably be in a bigger role and he may be given more opportunity to do so, but it’s definitely hard to speculate on that.”
Ironically, the last game Orr played for Minot was January 7th against the St. Cloud Norsemen, and if the playoffs started today, St. Cloud and Minot would meet in the first round. The Norsemen are currently the #2 seed and need to gain just two of a possible four points in Aberdeen to finalize that spot while Minot sits as the #3 seed and a sweep of Austin would guarantee they finish no worse than third. Orr was very up front about his thoughts when asked if he would enjoy getting to face his old team in the postseason. “ Yeah, definitely. I think it would be a great opportunity. When I was in Minot I was never really given a chance to make mistakes and learn from them. Here in St. Cloud I have, and I think it would be a great way to display my growth,” reasons Orr. “I still talk to some of the guys there so I think it would be pretty fun to play them.”
Orr and the Norsemen go into Aberdeen this weekend with their magic number to clinch a playoff spot down to 2 points between themselves and Minot, North Iowa and/or Aberdeen who are tied for third through fifth and the last two postseason spots. St. Cloud needs just one win to finish second in the Central Division and both games Friday and Saturday will have puck drop at 7:15. You can watch the most critical games of St. Cloud’s season online at hockeytv.com.