Behrend, Hennen prove all corners of the state produce elite-level talent

by Legacy Hockey

Luverne's Brock Behrend, left, and Kittson County Central's Tyler Hennen are senior forward playing for Sanford Power, the league's top team through two weeks of the season. Photos by Loren Nelson,

Brock Behrend is usually met by blank stares when he tells people he’s from Luverne. As for Tyler Hennen trying to explain where his hometown of Hallock is located … forget about it.

“I just say it’s basically in Canada,” Hennen said.

Behrend and Hennen, both seniors, are teammates on Sanford Power, which leads the Elite League standings with a 5-1-0 record through the first two weeks. The small-town forwards from far flung corners of Minnesota (Luverne in the extreme southwest and Hallock in the extreme northwest) are further proof of the old hockey adage, “If you are good enough, the scouts will find you.”

“Just coming from Luverne, there’s not a lot of exposure, but if you are a good player you can definitely get your name out there” said Behrend, who made headlines as a sophomore by scoring seven goals in a single game against Fairmont. “Now I am playing in the Elite League with the best, so it just kind of proves it.”

Sanford Power coach Scott Oliver is thrilled to have both players, and not just because they have been solid contributors to his team’s strong start.

“The whole idea behind this Elite League is to stay at home, support your communities, support your teammates, don’t leave,” Oliver said. “It fits the whole model of what the Elite League is about, and that’s what we like the best.”

Oliver has previously coached Luverne standouts such as Jaxon Nelson, Chaz Smedsrud and Toby Sengvongxay. Nelson (Minnesota), Smedsrud (Union) and Sengvongxay (Gustavus Adolphus) all went on to play in college.

“The league called me and asked me if we could squeeze (Behrend) into our tryout,” Oliver said. “I said, ‘Absolutely.’ He looked good. I made a couple of calls on him and said, ‘I’m going to take him.’ ”

Hennen, who has been playing for Hallock-based Kittson County Central since he was an eighth grader, enters the season with 199 career points. Longtime high school hockey observers and historians consider reaching the career 200-point plateau to be exceptional.

“Up in northwest Minnesota, we’ve known about Tyler Hennen,” Oliver said. “I’m so proud of him for being loyal to his classmates, his teammates, his community. Because he’s heading back up there to play after he has a great fall of development in the Elite League.”

Hennen, who scored 38 goals among his 73 points for Kittson Central last season, said the ice is taken out of the Hallock arena in the summer, forcing him to make the hour drive south to Grand Forks if he wants to skate. 

“It’s been pretty fun,” Hennen, who has five points in five games, said about his Elite League experience so far. “I’m still not playing where I think I can play at. Give it another week or two and I think I’ll be at my best.”