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

After recovering from a shoulder injury he sustained in Germany earlier this season, Sundre’s Adam Beukeboom found himself unexpectedly back with the Watertown Wolves in upstate New York

SUNDRE — After a shoulder injury nearly ended his season, a local hockey goaltender who has built an international resume over the years thought it might be time to hang up his skates.

But fate had other plans for Adam Beukeboom, who had been playing in Germany for the Harsefeld Tigers since September earlier this season when he fractured his left shoulder – also the glove side – trying to block a shot at the net.

“I tried to do my best Dominik Hasek imitation,” said Beukeboom Albertan with a chuckle during a telephone interview from his grandfather’s home in north-east Sundre on 31 May.

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

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

Not long after his injury, Beukeboom said the Tigers eventually collapsed largely due to attrition.

“After I got injured, the players started leaving and they just didn’t have enough for a team,” he said, citing COVID restrictions as one of the reasons some of his former teammates were unable to play.

Professional future in doubt

That meant Beukeboom was essentially helpless when he finally recovered within months.

“It was unfortunate because when I was healthy I had nowhere to play,” he said, adding that the injury has now largely healed. However, next summer he intends to do a combination of physical therapy and general conditioning to regain some strength.

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

But the clubs he contacted all seemed quite happy with their existing squads and one by one they all turned down his offer.

When asked if the thought of early retirement might have crossed his mind at that point, Beukeboom said the opportunity hadn’t escaped his notice.

“It’s hard enough to find a job as a goalkeeper anywhere, let alone in Europe. There are many good goalkeepers out there,” he said. “I think if you don’t play for almost two seasons in a row, it becomes difficult to find the next job.”

Although it wasn’t the ideal outcome to hang up his skates prematurely, Beukeboom briefly had doubts about his future prospects in professional hockey.

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

Make ends meet with a little help from friends

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

“A couple of my friends in Ontario started an agency,” he said. “So you have some pretty good connections over there. They came forward and said Watertown needed a goalie.”

When he first put Beukeboom in touch with the New York-based team that plays in the Federal Prospects Hockey League — the league featured in the classic 1970s ice hockey comedy Slapshot — his friends played an essential role Role in saving his season and arguably his career as well.

“Watertown showed interest and so we just went from there,” Beukeboom said, adding that he soon found himself on a plane bound for New York State, where he arrived in early February to play with the Watertown Wolves.

The keeper, who has scored 1.46 goals against average with a .950 save rate, had just one practice session with his new team before jumping straight into league play.

“I practiced once and then we played three games in a row and that was it,” he said.

championship title

But that seemed to be all he needed as Wolves swept their way to championship victory in a best-of-three series involving six playoff teams.

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

“Luckily I got 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 taking first place and winning the league’s trophy known as the Commissioner’s Cup.

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

The final series of the championship was a match between the Wolves and the River Dragons of Columbus, Georgia, he said.

“I have to get this straight because I found out there are about six different Columbuses in the US,” he said, laughing.

The River Dragons won the first game in the best-of-three series on their home turf. But Wolves gobbled up the competition in Watertown, winning both games 2 and 3. The latter was a thrill, finishing 3-2 after double overtime.

“That was pretty crazy,” he said of Game 3. “It was the kind of game you dream about growing up. Playing in it was pretty cool.”

New Hope

And with that win, coupled with finishing the playoffs as the top goaltender, his once uncertain season and dwindling career prospects rebounded in spectacular fashion. Any thought of ending it seems to have vanished completely from his mind now.

“To win a championship you want to keep playing. That’s why I don’t plan to hang up the skates at the moment.”
Beukeboom, who returned to Sundre for the summer at the end of May, has already secured the next couple of seasons on a new two-year deal in Germany, playing in the same Regionalliga Nord as before but now for a new team Adendorfer EC.

“It’s always nice to have a bit of stability and to know where you’re playing,” he said. “I’ve got two years left in me for sure. I am definitely looking forward to returning to Europe.”

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

The injury also followed his 2020/21 season in Germany, which was canceled due to the pandemic.

“The year before that I had no season at all,” he said. “I think I spent more time playing hockey on the pond during the winter than at the rink.”

Beukeboom described last season’s injury and the resulting uncertainty as “a tough time,” said Beukeboom: “Nobody wants to stop playing ice hockey against their will – not of their own accord.”

Regardless, doubts began to creep in.

“I went a little crazy during the whole process,” he said. “This year honestly felt the same way, and I think if Watertown hadn’t happened, I don’t know if I would still be playing.”

But with newly found hope for the future, Beukeboom is now looking forward to his summer break. Part of his plan to strengthen his shoulder will include some time off golfing on the local fairways.

“I’m still in the winding-up process,” he said. “It was a great end to the season. At some point I get nervous about going back on the ice – but not quite that far yet.”

Beukeboom also intends to spend some time working alongside his father, Mike Beukeboom, on their founding company called The Beech CoWork in Olds.

Leave a Comment