Beechey’s return burns the ICE

By Jeff Bromley

Beechey’s return burns the ICE

All good things must come to an end. Great movies, summer vacations and yes, even unbeaten streaks. It had to be somebody, even worse, it had to be the Calgary Hitmen and as returning player stories don’t often go, it was a familiar friend leading the charge against his former teammates.

Tyler Beechey made his triumphant return to the town he called home during hockey season for the past four years and potted two goals including the game-winner in a 5-3 defeat of the Kootenay ICE by their arch-rival, the Calgary Hitmen.

Beechey, a twenty-yr-old who was traded on September 28th to the Hitmen in exchange for nineteen-yr-old Shaun Norrie in order for the ICE to pare down their roster to the league-mandated allotment of three overage players, opened the scoring just minutes into the contest on a bullet slap-shot that went five-hole on ICE rookie netminder Bryan Bridges. And just in case anybody had forgotten how the Edmonton product can produce clutch goals as he had done so many times in an ICE uniform, Beechey lifted a rebound over a sprawling Bryan Bridges on the power-play at the 13:40 of the third frame for what turned out the eventual game-winner.

For Beechey the two goal performance and the win were a little bittersweet. “I was a little nervous coming in,” said Beechey. “Mo (former ICE teammate Lance Morrison who also returned with the Hitmen) and I talked on the bus and we were both pretty nervous but we knew after the first couple of shifts that it would turn into a normal game.”

Not overjoyed at the time when he was traded, Beechey has made the most of the move to Cowtown and is now viewing it as a better opportunity. An opportunity that might turn into a professional contract offer in his last year of junior. “Yeah, it has,” said Beechey. “I guess there’s a lot more opportunity for me there. This Kootenay team has unbelievably skilled forwards and is one of the most skilled teams I’ve ever seen. So me going to Calgary, it’s a good opportunity for me and I really like the city.”

The weekend also saw the return of both Jarrett Stoll from a hand injury and Marek Svatos with an earlier than expected return from a shoulder injury. Stoll, a second round NHL draft pick of the Calgary Flames in 2000 felt good coming off the injury but admitted that it will take some time to get back into the groove. “A couple times I could feel it,” said Stoll. “Nothing too serious. I was pretty happy with the hand anyway. As far as conditioning wise, it’s tough when you’re not playing. You can do all the ‘bag’ skating you want but it’s all timing.”

The frozen squad from the Key City failed to carry over the momentum of the nine game unbeaten streak the next night in front of the biggest home crowd of the season of 4071. A couple of bounces the other way, however, and the result could’ve been much different. By unofficial count, those bounces included one that goaltender Bryan Bridges might’ve wanted back as a blooper from a center ice dump-in took a strange bounce and ended up behind him for the fifth Hitmen goal. Three crossbars and a post that seem to be ringing like the bells of the new year all night didn’t help the home side much either. That being said, Coach Ryan McGill wasn’t buying the bounces going the other way theory. Nor the four posts and crossbars that the club hit that would’ve shifted the balance of power. “Yeah, we hit some posts,” said McGill “But, you know what? If you’re working hard and you’re creating chances, those posts go in. We didn’t deserve for any of those posts to go in tonight. We got outworked and we actually thought that if we just threw the sticks in tonight, we could win.”

“We just didn’t have everybody on board tonight and that’s what happens when you get going nine games (the unbeaten streak). Once in awhile your helmet doesn’t fit because your head’s getting too big. Hopefully the pin just hit the balloon and popped it.”

Quick Hits – Lance Morrison also returned with Hitmen during Saturday night’s tilt. Playing with a wrist injury that was by many reports not ready for game action, the former ICE player that was traded under less than amicable conditions played well in a checking role. Nonetheless, Morrison is enjoying his new surroundings. “First of all I just want to say it wasn’t just about the ice time,” said Morrison when asked if he was indeed getting the ice-time in Calgary he felt was warranted in Kootenay. “It was a lot of factors. I can’t just place it on ice-time. Going to Calgary, I feel that I have a great opportunity to play. I love it there.”….

Goaltender Tony Kolewaski, brought in by the ICE to try and shore up the goaltending situation, was released by the club after the Calgary game. G.M. Jeff Chynoweth praised the goaltenders’ play in the three games out of seven he saw action in but said it wasn’t enough to justify moving either of the present ICE ‘tenders in Jeff Harvey or Bryan Bridges. If anything, Kolewaski forced the two incumbent back-stoppers to take their game up a level. The trick now is keeping it there . . . The ICE now embark on a five game in six nights road trip to Saskatchewan. The next home tilt isn’t until November 14 against the club that eliminated them from the playoffs last season, the Swift Current Broncos.