Breckenridge native, Summit, Tigers alum Theriault taking game to junior level with NA3HL’s Bighorns
Finn Theriault grew up in the Colorado mountains and advanced his game each season, even coming down to Colorado Springs for a spell.
Next season, the Breckenridge native will take the junior hockey route after recently signing an NA3HL tender with the Helena Bighorns.
“The opportunity to sign with Helena came during my last year of 18U hockey in Colorado Springs (with the Tigers),” Theriault said. “After having an injury-plagued season, the CSAHA director and GM of Helena, Mike Greene, who’s been seeing me play for the three previous years, believed in my skill and talent and gave me the opportunity to sign a tender with the Bighorns as a Tier III option for the 2023-24 season.
“It’s extremely excited to be able to continue my path in hockey. Obviously, anyone who makes the decision to pursue junior hockey has goals and aspirations to play NCAA and pro hockey, which is something I’m chasing as well, but I’m also extremely blessed and honored to continue to play the sport I love and to continue to compete at a high level and be the best I can be.”
Theriault said he did his research on the NA3HL and liked what he found out about the league.
“From what I’ve heard and have seen, the NA3 is a good developmental league in Tier III,” said Theriault. “I think it has a lot of bright spots and a lot of good talent in it and I think as time moves on, it will continue to grow into a big powerhouse junior league. I’m excited to be a part of the Bighorns organization as I know that they are a talented squad and a team that’s always in the running for a Fraser Cup. I’m a big fan of how the NA3 is an affiliate with the North American Hockey League and how many guys can get callups to Tier II and get seen by many NCAA Division III schools, so I believe that it’s a great opportunity for me and that options and paths will be put in front of me if I’m playing my best.
“I think it’s something that I will enjoy every day.”
Growing up, Theriault started skating at the age of two and playing hockey at the age of four, playing for the Summit Lightning all the way until his 14U year. He also played with the Mountain Militia and for Summit High School his freshman year when he chose to venture to the AAA realm with the Tigers.
“When I decided to make the jump to play AAA hockey, I chose to billet and play in Colorado Springs for the Tigers since I had friends and connections on that team,” Theriault said. “Eventually, I met new friends and teammates who are my friends for life. I stayed playing for the Tigers because of that family aspect the program promoted. I’ve had many coaches who have pushed me to be better and have had a big impact on my life. Chris Miller and Joey Otsuka for Summit are two coaches that impacted me as a hockey player and as a person. A big coach from back home in Breckenridge who continues to push me to be better is Dan Autenreith, a skills and developmental coach/advisor in Breckenridge working with many kids in the game up here to develop and find their potential. I’m one of the kids he’s been working with me for many years and is a big reason for my passion and commitment to the game of hockey. Another coach with a big impact was Kevin Holmstrom with the Tigers as he guided me through AAA and through the junior process and helped me get to where I’m at today. I owe a lot of credit to him and other members of the Tigers staff.”
The 2022-23 season with the Tigers’ 18U team was a turning point for Theriault.
“This past season prepared me for juniors by continuing to be and act like a professional every day I walked in to the rink, gym, and lockeroom,” said Theriault. “I challenged myself to be an influence and a leader to my teammates. I knew that by doing these things they would help me be successful at the junior level. I had some struggles during the season as I broke my hand early in the year, which threw my game off for the most part, but I learned to battle through adversity and have a smile on my face walking in the rink even on my worst days to be a bright spot for the boys.
“This all helped me get ready for the next levels in hockey by understanding the rehab process and by knowing my role off the ice.”
Going back further, Theriault said hockey has been a major part of his life as long as he can remember.
“I grew up in Breckenridge in Summit County, which has a fabulous rink and a strong hockey community, and I grew up learning to play there,” explained Theriault. “My dad grew up playing hockey in Massachusetts and after moving to Summit County, he gave back to the community by coaching youth hockey and teaching my brother and I and many of my friends not just the game of hockey, but the importance of being a good person outside of the rink. The Colorado Avalanche is my favorite team, like it is for many kids in Colorado. They had a huge impact on my love for the game, growing up watching games on Altitude and watching guys like Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O’Reilly, and now Cale Makar really carved my love for the game and my aspiration to play at the highest level I can play at.”
His junior hockey path set, Theriault can now look a bit ahead to future goals and aspirations.
“My short-term goals as of right now in hockey are to continue to keep working and try and play Tier II junior hockey and to continue to work to play NCAA hockey,” Theriault said. “My long-term goal in the game is to play competitively as long as I can, no matter where that may be. As long as I’m playing, then I’ve achieved my goal. My goal in school is to graduate from university, no matter where that may be, and to hopefully take on a career in the journalism field and travel and live my best life.”
— Matt Mackinder
(July 20, 2023)