Former NHL draft pick ready to defend the NYTEX net
According to an article posted today on brantnews.com, Kevin Beech has confirmed that he will be joining the Texas Brahmas for the coming season.
Beech, 23, was the 2008-09 CHL Goaltender of the Year and a member of the All-CHL Team after starting 50 games with the Mississippi RiverKings. He finished the regular season with a 35-12-3-3 record, a 2.44 GAA and a .906 save percentage. He was first in the league in minutes played (3025:11) and wins (35).
Last season, he was forced to limit his activities after a necessary off-season hip surgery to remove cartilage buildup. He began the season on the 30-day IR and was finally activated on December 4th. His first start, against the Missouri Mavericks two days later, was a 4-2 victory with Beech stopping 18 of 20 shots faced.
He went 6-3-2 with the RiverKings before he was traded to Corpus Christi on January 30th for future considerations.
“I played 12 games in Mississippi coming back from injury and I could tell there was a bit of a rust factor there,” Beech said. “I was letting in goals I wouldn’t normally have.”
As Greg Rajan put it: “With Mark Sibbald's emergence in Mississippi and Tim Boron also around, it appears Beech was the odd man out.” Sibbald was burned by seven goals on 26 shots that night, courtesy of the Tulsa Oilers. Meanwhile, Beech became the first goalie in IceRays history to notch a shutout, stopping all 26 shots faced in his debut against Rio Grande Valley the following night.
“In Corpus, it was like a light switch; I got a shutout my first game and took it from there,” Beech said.
Beech went 12-7-2 with the IceRays and helped push them into the Southern Conference’s final playoff spot.
Kevin Kaminski later told me that he regretted trading Beech, considering Sibbald’s decision to leave the team and return to the SPHL. Throughout the course of the season, the RiverKings saw ten players defend the crease (three as emergency backups).
Unfortunately for Beech and the IceRays, the Brahmas took the first round of the playoffs 2-0, thereby ending their season and in the end, closing the books on the franchise as the team would fold in May.
Fortunately, there were a number of teams searching for a quality net minder and after weighing his options, Beech decided to go with the Brahmas, citing that the team’s location and history show they get a significant number of American Hockey League call-ups each season.
“Last year was more of a rehab year,” Beech said. “The injury was bad timing. Now I have to do what I did two years ago and have a shot of moving up again…I’m doing everything I can to prepare for a big season.”
Born in London, Ontario then moving to Brantford, Beech began his hockey career like any other Canadian boy on the outdoor rink and playing minor hockey.
"When I was six, I started playing hockey, but not as a goalie,” Beech said. “I played forward for a couple of years and at that age if you could skate you were going to get three to five goals a game and I was able to skate pretty good."
It wasn't until Kevin was nine years old that defending the net seemed more appealing than playing forward and taking shifts because the goalie got to play the whole game.
"When I was nine, I had to make a decision (about) what I was going to be and I liked that the goalie got to play the whole game,” Beech said. “It was the most important position. I also wanted to be like my older brother Jeff, who was a pretty good goalie growing up."
Kevin credits his family as having the biggest influence in his life with helping him and supporting his dream to play professional hockey.
"My parents, brother and sister have supported me in hockey since I was kid,” Beech added. “I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for them."
Beech played for four seasons with the Sudbury Wolves and the Erie Otters in the OHL (2003-2007) and was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth round (#165 overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He was called up to the Springfield Falcons (AHL) for six games at the end of the 2006-07 season.
In 2007-08, he signed with the Laredo Bucks, where he won his first five starts and went 10-4-1-2 before he was traded to the Youngstown Steelhounds on January 25, 2008. He won his first start against the RiverKings on February 10th and went 4-3-0-2 to finish out the season and then went 1-1 during the post-season, where the SteelHounds were dispatched by the Colorado Eagles four games to one in the quarter-finals.
At 6’, 3” and 170 pounds, Beech offers the height the Brahmas need in net, while his slender frame allows him the mobility to move around the crease with ease. If the Brahmas confirm his signing, it’ll be good news for those who had concerns about who would be defending the net.
Beech is currently training hard on and off the ice and is busy with his second annual Kevin Beech Goalie School, being held at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in Brantford, Ontario this week (August 9-13th).
He’ll report to the Brahmas training camp in late September and will work with Scott Campbell and Wayne Savage, who will apparently be competing for the backup position.
By the way, rumor has it Beech won’t be the only former IceRay in a Brahmas sweater this season…
You can read the source article here
You can visit the Beech Goalie School website here
Photo Credits: Robert Keith
Background and quotes on Beech’s early years courtesy of Andruw Bourgeois/Pro Hockey News