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Sundre-raised hockey goaltender winds up roller-coaster season with championship title

After recovering from a shoulder injury sustained earlier this season playing in Germany, Sundre's Adam Beukeboom unexpectedly found himself joining the Watertown Wolves in New York State

SUNDRE — After a shoulder injury nearly ended his season, a local hockey goaltender who over the years has established an international resume thought perhaps the time had come to hang up his skates.

But destiny had different plans in mind for Adam Beukeboom, who earlier this season had since September been playing in Germany with the Harsefeld Tigers when he fractured his left shoulder—also his glove side—during an attempt to block a shot on net.

“I was trying to do my best Dominik Hasek impersonation,” Beukeboom told the Albertan on May 31 with a chuckle during a phone interview from his grandfather’s home in Sundre’s northeast.

“I ended up breaking my shoulder while I was trying to make a save,” he said, describing a fracture to the top of the humerus compounded by a torn labrum, or in other words the cartilage in the shoulder joint.

“It didn’t feel great; I tried to play through it. But obviously, that wasn’t something that lasted very long,” he said. “So, I couldn’t play anymore.”

Not long after he was injured, Beukeboom said the Tigers eventually folded largely as a result of attrition.

“After I got hurt, players started leaving and they just didn’t have enough for a team,” he said, citing COVID restrictions among the reasons some of his former teammates could no longer continue playing.

Future career prospects in doubt

That meant Beukeboom was essentially cast adrift upon finally recovering within a few months.

“It was unfortunate because by the time I was healthy, I didn’t have anywhere to play,” he said, adding the injury has since largely mended. However, throughout the coming summer he intends to pursue a combined regimen of physiotherapy and general conditioning to rebuild some strength.

“I ended up pretty much reaching out to every team in Germany to see if they wanted to bring on a goalie late in the season,” he said.

But the clubs he contacted all seemed quite content with their existing rosters and one after another they all declined his offer.

Asked whether the thought of early retirement might by that point have started crossing his mind, Beukeboom said the possibility had not escaped him.

“It’s hard enough to find a job as a goalie anywhere, let alone over in Europe. There’s a lot of good goalies out there,” he said. “I think if you don’t play for two seasons in a row almost, it becomes tough to find that next job.”

So, while prematurely hanging up his skates was not the ideal outcome he wanted, Beukeboom briefly had doubts about his future prospects playing professional hockey.  

“That could have easily been the end for me,” he said.

Getting by with a little help from friends

However, when one door closes, another one tends to open somewhere else—especially with a little help from well-connected acquaintances.

“A few of my friends in Ontario, they started an agency,” he said. “So, they have some pretty good connections over there. They reached out and said that Watertown needed a goalie.”

Establishing that initial contact between Beukeboom and the New York State-based team that plays in the Federal Prospects Hockey League—the league featured in the classic 1970s hockey comedy called Slapshot—his friends played a substantial role in salvaging his season, and arguably his career as well.

“Watertown showed interest and so we just kind of went from there,” said Beukeboom, adding he before long found himself on a plane headed to New York State, where he arrived earlier in February to begin playing with the Watertown Wolves.

The goaltender -- who has accrued a 1.46 goals against average with a 0.950 save percentage -- got in only one practice with his new team before jumping right into league game play.

“I practised once, and then we played three games back-to-back-to-back, and that was it,” he said.

Championship title

But that seemed to be all he needed, as the Wolves went on to sweep their way to championship victory in a six-team playoff best-of-three series.

“I showed pretty well, especially considering I hadn’t played hockey in three months,” he said, also praising his new teammates.  

“Fortunately, I was kind of walking into a pretty good situation and we had a fantastic team,” he said. “It was a great group of guys—it’s as good a group as you’ll find in professional hockey, at least in North America. So, that was pretty cool.”

The Wolves ended up placing first to win the league’s trophy known as the Commissioner’s Cup.

“We ended up winning the whole thing—it was pretty awesome,” he said.

The championship’s final series came down to a contest between the Wolves and the River Dragons from Columbus, Ga., he said.

“I have to clarify that because I found out there’s about six different Columbuses in the U.S.,” he said with a laugh.

The River Dragons won the first game in the best-of-three series on their home turf. But the Wolves ended up devouring the competition in Watertown, winning both games 2 and 3. The latter was a nail-biter that ended 3-2 following double overtime.  

“That was pretty crazy,” he said about Game 3. “It was kind of that game you dream about when you’re growing up. So, to play in that was pretty cool.”

Newfound hope

And with that victory coupled with finishing the playoff run as the top goalie, his once uncertain season and fading career prospects ended up rebounding on a spectacularly high note. Any thoughts of calling it quits now seem to have completely evaporated from his mind.

“To go and win a championship, it makes you want to continue playing as much as anything. So, as of right now, I have no intention of hanging up the skates.”
Beukeboom, who in late May arrived back in Sundre for the summer, has already secured the next couple of seasons with a new, two-year contract in Germany, playing in the same Regionalliga Nord league as before, but now for a new team called Adendorfer EC.

“It’s always nice to have a little stability and know where you’re playing,” he said. “I’ve got for sure two years left in me. I’m definitely excited to go back to Europe.”

Even though Beukeboom said he still occasionally feels his shoulder, he added, “I definitely have full mobility.”

The injury had also followed on the heels of his 2020-21 season in Germany that was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“The year before this, I didn’t have a season at all,” he said. “I think I spent more time playing hockey on the pond in the winter than I did in the rink.”

Describing this past season’s injury and subsequent uncertainty as “a tough time,” Beukeboom said, “Nobody wants to stop playing hockey against their will—not on their own accord.”

Regardless, doubts had began to creep in.

“I was going a little bit crazy through that whole process,” he said. “This year, it honestly started to feel like the same thing, and I do think if Watertown hadn’t happened, I don’t know if I’d still be playing.”

But with a freshly found hope for the future, Beukeboom now looks forward to his summer break. Part of his plan to strengthen his shoulder will include some time out on the local fairways playing golf.

“I’m still in the unwinding process,” he said. “It was a big finish to the season. At some point, I’ll be antsy to get back on the ice—but not quite there yet.”

Beukeboom also intends to spend some time working alongside his father Mike Beukeboom on their business incubation enterprise in Olds called The Beech CoWork.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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