Photo by Rena Laverty
At times, it may seem like John Beecher is living a dream. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that he was with his mom and brother sitting in the stands to watch the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo when he was just 12 years old.
“I remember sitting in the stands, watching the game and trying to take everything in,” he recalled. “It was definitely cool to be a part of it then.”
Fast forward five short years and Beecher was on the other side of the equation — participating in the 2018 AAPG in Minnesota. It was a special experience to be on the other side of the glass.
“It was pretty amazing and very cool to be a part of it,” he said after scoring a goal in the event. “We got to play against some of our current teammates and it was a lot of fun to compete against those guys. I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”
Beecher played on Team Leopold, coached by former NHL and USA Hockey National Team Development player Jordan Leopold (1997-98). Beecher definitely took advantage of some of the advice he was given.
“He has so much knowledge and a hockey background,” said Beecher on Leopold. “He really nailed it into us to have fun since this is a special event for all of us. He told us that you want to have fun in this game, but you can’t lose sight of your focus and end goal. It was really good words to hear and to understand.”
The Elmira, New York, native really credits the development he’s experienced with the NTDP as a big reason for his success, both on and off the ice. He already has noticed the difference on the ice between his Under-17 and Under-18 seasons.
“We are definitely bigger, faster and stronger,” said Beecher, who had 17 goals and 41 points last season. “Last year, in the [United States Hockey League], we were not as big and strong, especially in the corners. Now, we can really hold our own and use our bodies to our advantage.
“The spring training is huge for us. It was hard to put on weight and gain strength during the season. Once the season was over, we could really focus on that as a team. We knew that we had tougher competition this year. We can already see the gains this season. It’s such a huge part of the program.”
The 6-foot-3, 204-pound forward has definitely seen his game grow over the course of this same span.
“I believe I have become a more complete player,” explained Beecher. “Since my U17 year, I have improved my game tremendously. The coaches and my teammates did a great job in helping me prepare, especially in the D zone and getting puck possession. I definitely learned how to make those adjustments to help my teammates.”
Favorite NHL Team:
Favorite U.S. NHL Player:
Person to Sing Carpool Karaoke With:
Will Ferell, doesn't get much funnier than him!
Favorite Sport Outside of Hockey:
Favorite Musical Artist:
Zac Brown Band
Favorite TV Show:
Who Has the Biggest Influence on Hockey Career:
My brother, since he got me into the sport and pushes me to better myself every day.
It will be important to have this connection when Beecher and his U18 teammates open their college schedule with games against Ferris State University (Oct. 6) and the University of Notre Dame (Oct. 7). It is a stretch of seven straight contests against college foes, including a home game against the University of Minnesota on Oct. 13. He is very excited to play these games.
“It’s unbelievable to be able to play these teams,” stated Beecher. “Growing up, I always wanted to play college hockey and now, to play against these teams as a senior in high school is really special. It will be a good test for us and I think we will be up for the challenge. We will be able to get accustomed to the style of play which will be an advantage for us, especially when we head off to college next year.”
Of course, there is one specific game marked on the calendar of the University of Michigan commit — the Oct. 12 game in Ann Arbor, Michigan, against the Wolverines.
“It’s going to be amazing to play a game at Yost Ice Arena,” said Beecher. “I know they will have an unbelievable crowd and it will be a good atmosphere. It should be a great game. It will definitely be different to be playing against some of the guys that I know who will be my future teammates.”
Growing up, I always wanted to play college hockey and now, to play against these teams as a senior in high school is really special.
It ended up being an easy decision for Beecher to select Michigan.
“It was one of the schools, in the back of my mind, that I knew was the place I wanted to be,” he explained. “I went on a campus visit and it is beautiful. Yost is a top-notch facility and the coaching staff is amazing. I felt that connection and knew right away that I wanted to commit.”
For now, Beecher is focused on one goal and that is the pride he has in wearing the colors of the United States of America.
“It is amazing to wear the USA jersey,” he stated. “I can’t believe that I get to slip it over my head and represent the country that I love. It’s still unbelievable that I get to represent the red, white and blue. To be a part of the NTDP history, it is everything that I could have ever hoped for and it’s so special.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is the support of his family — dad Bill, mom Natasha, and brother Bryce — who helped him get to where he is today. It didn’t matter if it was taking him to practice or games or supporting him both on and off the ice.
John Beecher at the All-American Prospects Game. Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn
“I wouldn’t be here without them,” said Beecher. “They are my biggest supporters. I can always count on them. They try to come out and see me whenever they can. We are a close-knit family.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.