PETERBURG | George Street has small pubs, restaurants and photos of the Petes players. Scotty Bowman, Jacques Martin, Bob Gainey, Steve Yzerman, Mike Ricci and Chris Pronger built their legends in the city of 80,000 people north-east of Toronto.
A good hope of the Canadian is now sporting the Petes’ colors. Owen Beck, traded by the Mississauga Steelheads on Jan. 7, will try to do his own thing in the footsteps of the organization’s other greats. But that reputation is still a long way off.
The heart of this city remains the Peterborough Memorial Centre, an old arena built in 1956 that seats 4,300 people. This is where the Granby Predators won the 1996 Memorial Cup. Inside the building it breathes hockey. And then there’s the smell. In this imperfection we are not far from perfection.
“You have to look at the corners, they’re almost square,” warned an NHL scout. The puck can bounce around anywhere. »
On Thursday, February 16, the Petes host the Ottawa 67’s in a clash between the top two teams in the Ontario Junior League East Division. Three hours before the game, Beck climbs into the press room to meet the author of these lines.
CH’s 2nd round pick (33rd overall) took a breather to summarize the final months of his life as a hockey player.
“The best way to describe my last six or seven months is in one word: incredible. I didn’t expect to achieve so many dreams in such a short time. I still don’t quite understand. It’s just crazy. I can humbly say that I’ve had an eventful year! »
“I need to step back to understand what happened. This summer it will probably hit me a little more. I was fished out; I attended a first camp in the NHL; I won the gold medal with Team Canada; I played my first game in the NHL; and I now play for my youth team at Peterborough. »
In his list he forgot his outstanding rookie tournament in Buffalo with the CH, his early dismissal from the Canadian team and his 911 call a few days later to replace the injured Colton Dach.
Dinner in Ottawa
Of the last seven months, Beck will not forget January 28th. With many injured and the Laval Rocket traveling to Cleveland, the Habs issued him an SOS for a rare emergency recall. At 18, he played his first major league game in a 5-0 loss to the Senators.
“I loved the experience,” he replied. The Canadian had so much class with me. The day before the game, Nick Suzuki invited me to dinner in Ottawa. I shared a meal with Suzuki, Hoffman, Wideman, Allen, Dvorak, and Anderson. I sat at the table with half a dozen NHL players. »
“The next day I went to morning practice, I did an NHL player’s routine. The CH had given me a nice surprise by placing the pucks where my last name could be read for the warm up. They welcomed me with open arms. I did my rookie lap without a helmet. Despite the end result, it was really a great day. »
A message from St. Louis
Beck upped the pace for a player breaking the ice in a new league.
“I didn’t feel too far from the NHL,” he replied. I played almost ten minutes, had two chances and was pretty good defensively. Overall I was satisfied. My playing style goes well with that of the NHL. It’s not unattainable for me. »
Sent back to his junior team the next day, he received a message from Martin St-Louis.
“Martin texted me the next day that I could be proud of myself. He reminded me that I didn’t have much time to prepare mentally and that I had to discover a new system in less than 24 hours. He told me that I quickly assimilated the essentials to know a good meeting. »
Simple words, but words that still ring in his head nearly a month later.
“Owen is very smart”
- Petes head coach Rob Wilson predicts the 18-year-old has a bright future in the NHL
Photo David Pickering/Peters of Peterborough
Owen Beck was traded to the Peterborough Petes on January 7th.
PETERBURG | Owen Beck is always referred to as the Smart Center. He has this quality on the ice, but also at school. Last year he won the Canadian Hockey League’s Student Player of the Year trophy.
“If I hadn’t played hockey, I would have loved to be a doctor,” Beck said in an interview with the Journal. There is no doctor in my family, I would have liked to have been the first. We never know. But now I’m concentrating on hockey. »
Beck took a break from school this year but plans to enroll in classes sometime in the summer. When he was younger, he also studied immersive French from kindergarten through sixth grade. He conducted the interview in English, having largely lost his French, but once settled in Montreal he hopes to make up for lost time.
Like Nick Bobrov, Martin Lapointe, Kent Hughes or Martin St-Louis, Rob Wilson names intelligence as the first quality of his player at the Peterborough Petes.
“Owen is very smart,” Wilson said. He is also a very good young man, very respectful. He has the respect of his teammates and coaches. He is a player dedicated to his team. »
“He’s tenacious on the ice, he’s strong in the faceoff circle, he’s a good skater and he’s not afraid to rub his nose on hot spots. He reads the game well with or without the puck. He will continue to grow as a player. He really has great potential because of his tool kit, but most of all his intelligence and his vision of the game. I envision him as a very responsible center at the NHL level. »
Inspired by Bergeron and Danault
In 46 games this season in the OHL, Beck has 52 points (20 goals, 30 assists). But because of his personal numbers, he is not talked about.
“I take a lot of pride in playing the ice properly,” said Petes No. 16. I pay attention to details. I always wanted to become a full center. I had the same mentality in Midget AAA. I was often given the role of second center, dealing with multiple faceoffs on the defensive end. I devote a lot of energy to my game on my territory. »
“I look at Phillip Danault, Bo Horvat or Patrice Bergeron. They’re never the most attacking guys on their team, but they have great value. I don’t watch tapes of them, I prefer to watch games. You won’t realize the importance of a Bergeron or Danault just by following the highlights. You have to watch a game to see how they play in their territory, how they handle transitions and how they win passes.”
An ambitious goal, but above all not impossible
Photo Martin Chevalier
Owen Beck during a preseason game against the Devils September 26 at the Bell Centre.
PETERBURG | Owen Beck said so when he returned from the World Junior Championships, where he won gold with Canada. For next season, he will be wearing the Montreal Canadiens jersey.
“Yes, I still believe it,” Beck replied. I still have work to do as a hockey player, but I don’t think the goal of playing in the NHL next year is out of reach. It is my goal. I’ll see if I can do it, but it’s clear in my mind. »
Beck, 19 as of February 3, could return to the Peterborough Petes, a team based 30 minutes’ drive from Port Hope, his Ontario hometown.
Rob Wilson, the Petes’ head coach, didn’t dare to venture into this terrain.
“I have no idea about the Canadian’s plans for next year,” said the 54-year-old. When Owen gets a job in Montreal next fall, the entire Petes organization will be happy for him. But when Owen returns to Peterborough, the entire Petes organization will be happy. We will promote it. »
“Owen is still a young player,” he continued. He will play his 19-year season next year. I can’t predict where he will play next season but I can get wet thinking that the Canadian will be watching him very closely next camp. He has a very bright future. Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes won’t want to shake things up with him. They’ll let him into the NHL when they feel he’s ready. And it could be next year. »
Since arriving at Peterborough, Beck has accumulated 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 16 games. He no longer drives as fast as he did with his former Mississauga team (41 points in 30 games).
“Yes, I’m a bit slower offensively,” he admitted. I needed time to learn the new system and adapt to new teammates. »