Photo by Rena Laverty
There was one special person who helped John Beecher discover his love of hockey and that is his older brother, Bryce.
“My brother was already playing hockey and he was the one who really got me into it,” explained Beecher, who started playing when he was six years old. “I didn’t like it at first, but my parents kept putting me out there. I told them that I didn’t want to do it because it was too slippery.”
In addition to his brother, parents Bill and Natasha both were college athletes. Beecher’s dad played lacrosse and golf at Elmira College while his mom ran track and cross-country at Union College. It should be no surprise that both John and his brother were very much into sports growing up.
“My parents didn’t play hockey, but they have been around sports their whole life,” remarked Beecher, who has grown into a 6-foot-2, 197-pound forward. “Growing up, I played soccer, football, baseball and lacrosse. I played and tried just about everything.
“My parents were into athletics and they wanted me and my brother to be happy. I was always running around with a stick or a ball in my hand.”
Growing up, Beecher and his brother also were finding videos of guys playing hockey. So when they stumbled upon USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, they were both hooked.
“When I was younger and found out about the program, it was what I wanted to do,” he said. “When I was 10, 11, 12 years old, my brother and I would watch the videos of the guys in the program and look at all the great players. [NTDP alum and current Buffalo Sabres star] Jack Eichel was one of my favorite players when he was in the program.”
It should come as no surprised when Beecher was invited to the Top 40 Camp one year ago, he was quick to jump on the offer. After all, the Elmira, New York, native had wanted this opportunity almost his entire life.
“I was at the Top 40 Camp when I got my offer to join the NTDP,” he said. “I remember looking at my parents and it was such a surreal moment. We went to the car and I think we all started to smile and give out hugs. I just couldn’t believe it. It was something I had always dreamed about to represent my country day in and day out and play with the top players in my age group.”
The good news for Beecher is he had a little head start on the transition after leaving home in his freshman year to play hockey in Connecticut.
Favorite NHL Team
Favorite NHL Player
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Zac Brown Band
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Steak and twice-baked potatoes
“Moving away from home was tough but I did have a head start as I saw what it would be like as I went to prep school in at Salisbury for two years. I was on my own so that helped with the transition being away for so long,” he remarked.
Beecher and the Under-17s will be heading to the United States Hockey League playoffs this season and will compete for the Clark Cup Championship. The U17s will enjoy a first-round bye and host second-round action in late April at USA Hockey Arena.
“It’s surreal [to be in the playoffs],” he said. “Coming into the season, the U17 team doesn’t usually see too much success. It’s a tough year but we have an amazing team all year. The guys never give up; they just keep going. We are willing to put everything on the line and work to achieve success. It’s very been special.
The guys never give up; they just keep going. We are willing to put everything on the line and work to achieve success. It’s very been special.
“This is the longest season I have ever had. It’s been a grind but it’s still a lot of fun.”
For Beecher, one thing will never change and that is how much pride he feels in being able to wear the colors of his country each and every day.
“I couldn’t think of a better honor than to represent my country by wearing the USA jersey,” he said. “I get to represent everything the U.S. stands for, especially the brave men and women who are serving our country. I take great pride in it.”
Another source of pride for Beecher was the U17 success in international play this season as the squad went undefeated and captured three tournament titles, including the U17 World Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, in early November. He credits some simple strategies to this team’s accomplishments.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“As a team, we didn’t quit when the going got tough,” he recalled. “It didn’t matter if we were up by 10 or down by 10, we kept pushing and always wanted to get the next goal. It is who we are as a team.
“In the locker room, we love to win and hate to lose so we are pushing each other every day. I think that really showed up in international play.”
That is why Beecher always turns to some simple words of advice he learned from his U17 Head Coach John Wroblewski.
“Because he played and coached here, he knows what we are going through,” he said. “He has really drilled into us to never take anything for granted. We need to come in each day and work hard. If you do that, then you are going to grow as a player and a person. You can’t take a day off as there are other players who are working just as hard.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.