A natural leader

ORANGEVILLE, Ont. – When the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team takes to the ice this fall, they will have added another natural-born leader to their mix in Thomas Beretta. Beretta, a player who has worn a letter on his sweater at nearly every level of hockey thus far, has spent the last two-and-a-half seasons with the St. Michael’s Buzzers, where he served as assistant captain two years ago and as captain last season.

He is excited about the opportunity to play college hockey, especially for the Huskies, who are a program on the rise under current head coach Mel Pearson. He also has another goal in mind, as well.

“Definitely college hockey was my No. 1 goal,” said Beretta. “I’d say just after bantam, I decided that was the goal. I want to play college hockey and get that experience and that education. I am really happy I get to start this opportunity at Michigan Tech.

“One of the things I wanted to do was to go to a program that is trending upwards. It’s had success the past few seasons and the team is going to be strong. The coaching staff there is remarkable. It really felt like it was the right choice for me to go somewhere where the program is strong and is highly recommended and looked upon now by all kinds of professional teams.”

Born in King City, Ontario, Beretta is from the same birth town as former Huskies forward and NHL head coach Davis Payne.

An older skater at 21-years old, Beretta needed time to mature, and in doing so, he gained valuable experience, which is part of what made him attractive to the Huskies. He grew up on a cattle farm in Orangeville, Ontario, a town an hour north of Toronto, where he learned some very valuable life lessons.

“I’ve been born and raised on a cattle farm, so it’s pretty nice out here on the farm,” said Beretta. “It’s a small town, and we live in the country. It is similar to Houghton, I would say.”

After playing two seasons with the South Central Coyotes Midget AAA program, Beretta made the jump to the Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Newmarket Hurricanes. In his first season, 2012-13, he scored just four goals and nine points in 52 games. He was off to a much better start to his second season with four goals and 12 points in 16 games before a trade sent him close to home with the St. Michael’s Buzzers.

Rather than get frustrated about the move, he enjoyed the opportunity to head back to Toronto and back to St. Michael’s, where he had attended high school.

“I went to school at St. Michael’s,” said Beretta. “It was kind of like home for me because I had graduated there. I knew the coaches and I knew a lot of the players there because they were my former school mates.

“The rink is right on the school campus there, so everything was familiar to me. “

In 34 games after the trade, he scored 14 goals and 29 points in 34 games.

He blossomed over the next two seasons with the Buzzers into a high-end scorer, notching 28 goals and 49 points in 2014-15 before leading the team this past season with a career-high 38 goals and 66 points.

He posted team a team-high nine power play goals and tied for the team lead in game-winning goals with five.

More important for him than the points was the fact that he served as team captain, a role he felt very comfortable in.

“I felt really comfortable there,” said Beretta. “Any player that feels comfortable and familiar with the environment can just relax a bit and just focus on playing and don’t have any other distractions to deal with.”

Described as a character player by the Huskies’ coaching staff, Beretta feels at home in a leadership role.

“I think that throughout my hockey career, I’ve always had a letter on my jersey,” said Beretta. “That’s just part of my character. I like to be a leader. I like to a role model for the younger guys. It comes with it’s challenges as well. All in all, I’ve learned a lot about being captain last year.”

A right-handed shot, the 6-foot center likens his game to that of St. Louis Blues winger Alexander Steen, son of former NHL-er Thomas Steen. The younger Steen is often praised for his defense-first mentality and is considered underrated offensively. He has strong hockey sense and plays a two-way game.

Despite his offensive prowess, Beretta feels that his defensive play is a key component of his game. He feels comfortable playing in almost any game situation.

“To describe myself, I am a power forward with a really solid shot,” said Beretta. “[I play with] a lot of energy and work ethic. I will bring pace to the game. I can play power play and the penalty kill and I take pride in being a two-way forward.”

Considering he is coming to Michigan Tech from the same junior program that developed current Huskies assistant captain Mike Neville, Beretta carries high expectations with him into his freshman season. He feels he is ready for the challenge ahead.