Kelowna’s Cody Beach is one step closer to his dream of playing in the NHL after being drafted and now signed by the St. Louis Blues, but he admits it was a dream he needed help seeing.
He views the signing of a three-year-entry level deal with the same excruciating joy when one reaches a milestone on a longer journey.
“Me and my agent talked at the start of the year and my goal was to get a contract at the end of the year,” he says. “I’ve made that goal but it’s just one of the stepping stones. I can’t get too excited. Signing a contract is something that gets me to where I want to be.”
That would, of course, be a regular roster spot in the National Hockey League. The 6’6″ 185-pound winger has long had what it takes physically. Known perhaps more for his grit than his hands—though he is proving both with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League—the one thing missing at a younger age was his attitude.
“I wasn’t the hardest working guy,” he says of his days in Kelowna Minor Hockey. “I went through the motions and tried to squeak through. You basically think it’s for fun.”
And of course it is. But it took great coaching for him to realize that God-given skills shouldn’t be squandered so easily. He credits Shawn Clerke, who coached him in his younger years and Dave Dupas, his bantam and midget coach with helping him with discipline.
Cody is the younger brother of Kyle Beach, a highly touted prospect of the Chicago Blackhawks who has a good shot at making the club this year. Father Brian says the two took entirely different paths.
“Kyle has always been ahead of the typical elite hockey development curve,” he said in an email. “He was the star on all his minor hockey teams, won a number of awards, was a first round WHL bantam pick, WHL rookie of the year and was Chicago’s first round pick in the 2008 entry draft.
“In Cody’s case, things never came quite as easy. He was never the best on his team. His energetic and playful demeanour was not always popular with coaches. He was a smart hockey player of average size with good skills but nothing that stood out. In first year Bantam he was cut from two rep teams. The BC Best Ever Program cut him at the U16 zone tryouts.”
And that’s when things began to change, not just mentally and emotionally—but physically. He grew, got more serious and was the fifth player from his bantam AAA team drafted to the WHL.
He is likely to return to Moose Jaw this year where he is starting to find a scoring touch, notching 49 points in 57 games but that grittiness was also on full display with 236 minutes in penalties—second highest in the WHL.
He is working out with his brother this summer and motivating each other to do better while also learning from Kyle’s experience.
“Family is the biggest thing you need when going through hockey, starting when you are young and your parents are getting up at 5 a.m. for practice. They never put pressure on me or anything, they just wanted me to have fun and enjoy it but then also my dad telling me I could do something with this if I wanted to,” he says. “Then with (Kyle) there, it is your older brother and you always look up to him and you want to do the same things he’s doing so I went to the (2008) draft with him and it was a real eye opener that this is what I want to do. And he’s in my corner and helping when I am having trouble and when I am down a bit he talks to me and tells me how he did it when he was that age. He’s been a great support and help.”