Last week the St. Cloud Norsemen signed a tender with forward Michael DeBrito, who has experience in the NAHL and has played over 40 games in the NA3HL over the last three seasons including regular season and the playoffs.
DeBrito talks about how he came to know the Norsemen and how the relationship formed. “I was playing for the Alexandria Blizzard and Jeff (Crouse) the head coach is really tight with Corey (Millen) and Brock (Kautz) and all those guys, so I know that they talked about me a lot,” explains DeBrito. “I went and skated once and it was a really fun practice. I just really liked the atmosphere and the guys were really close so it’s just something I wanted to be a part of.”
Fergus Falls is DeBrito’s hometown and he acknowledges that geography certainly factored into his decision, or at least helped initially peak his interest. “I think the biggest thing is that it’s really close to home, the rink is not even two hours from my house, which is really awesome,” DeBrito admits, talking about why he agreed to tender with the Norsemen. “And then obviously, with how well they’ve been doing in the last few years, always making deep playoff runs… I’ve just always wanted to be part of a successful team and I think the fact that they’re successful and the fact that they’re really close to home was kind of the decision maker for me.”
St. Cloud Norsemen Assistant Coach Brock Kautz talks about what the Norsemen value in DeBrito’s game. “He’s somebody that has experience playing games in our league. With him playing in Alexandria, obviously super close to us with a lot of communication from them and us and that definitely helps too,” confirms Kautz. “He’s somebody that works his butt off, he has a good amount of stick skill and he thinks the game the right way, so all of those things usually go well to make a good hockey player and we’re excited to have him on board.”
MIchael is listed on eliteprospects.com as 5’10, 174 lbs, which is a respectable size but DeBrito knows that he isn’t the biggest of guys on the ice. He also doesn’t use that as an excuse for backing down physically. “So I’m not the biggest guy but I like to play a hard game, I’m really physical for my size, I’m really fast and I have a good shot,” DeBrito describes his game when asked. “I would kinda compare it to Yanni Giourde (who is similar in size at 5’9, 172) on the Kraken; not the biggest guy but he’s really fast with a really good shot and he can go into the dirty areas if he needs to.”
Kautz agrees with DeBrito’s self-scouting report and likes the young man’s physical side. “Watching him play, he’s not afraid to move his feet and get into guys,” Kautz describes DeBrito, with some excitement in his voice. “And when you’re able to do that then usually the puck kinda comes back to your team or your stick and that’s when his stick skill and hockey sense can kind of take over.”
DeBrito’s four-year high school career with Fergus Falls had him ultimately tallying 66-74-140 in 96 regular season games and he really broke out offensively his junior year, as his last two seasons he scored 45 goals and 89 points in 47 games, nearly a goal-per-game player and two points per game rate. DeBrito played a couple games for the Alexandria Blizzard two seasons ago, split last season between Fergus Falls and Alexandria and then this year played half of it with the Kenai River Brown Bears in the NAHL and back with the Alexandria Blizzard. DeBrito has scored 18-17-35 in 33 NA3HL regular season games over the last three seasons, all with the Blizzard.
DeBrito certainly feels his experience in the NAHL with Kenai River will help him out next season. “I think that’ll for sure help me. What happened with Kenai, unfortunately, is I got sent down because I was injured a few times. I was kinda starting to find my way into the lineup, kinda figure out my game right before I got hurt the last time that sent me down,” assesses DeBrito. “Obviously playing almost 20 games with them and practicing every day and getting a feel for what coaches expect, I think that’ll be a huge advantage for me going into the season. Hopefully I can take advantage of it and just kinda run with it.”
DeBrito was a point-per-game player in the regular season for the Alexandria Blizzard squad that made it all the way to the NA3HL Championship game, coming up just short of hoisting the 2023 Fraser Cup. He’ll have his sights aimed even higher at a Robertson Cup with the Norsemen in 2024.