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Hawks Hope For Big Returns From Beach

by John Sandberg / Chicago Blackhawks
Fresh after being selected by the Blackhawks with the 11th pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, winger Kyle Beach expressed his admiration for another 11th overall pick: Calgary’s Jarome Iginla. Beach and the Blackhawks are hoping that the parallels between the two don’t end there.

“Jarome’s a great leader, on-and-off the ice,” said Beach, who spent the past two seasons playing for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. “He’ll do anything for his team; he’ll fight and go down in the corners to battle for the puck. He’s the type of player that goes after the puck and takes advantage of opportunities. That’s the guy that I want to emulate and I want to follow in his footsteps.”

Beach tries on his new colors for the first time at the draft.
Beach, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, was rated as one of the top forwards in this year’s draft; however, many scouts became weary of his draft stock due to his aggressive behavior. But rumors from the scouting circle didn’t cause Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon to shy away from selecting Beach with the team’s first pick of the draft.

“We’re not taking a chance by selecting him. We really like him,” said Tallon. “He’s a big power forward who has great hands and a great shot. He’s also got a lot of edge to him, and he’s going to fit in very nicely. We needed this type of power forward.”

“He’s a kid that has got tremendous strength, particularly with his wrist shot,” Tallon added. “He’s also got an ability to put fear into the minds of his opponents. He’s just terrific on the power play because he has got a cannon for a wrist shot.”

Beach was equally as excited to be joining the Blackhawks organization. “It’s a great opportunity, as the Blackhawks are starting a new era and are on their way back up,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity and honor for me. I couldn’t be any happier about this situation, and I’m really excited. Hopefully I can make a good impression with everyone and possibly earn a roster spot.”

Beach, who had scouts impressed by his combination of size, skill and grit, finished second in goals and third in points (27 G, 33 A, 60 P) as a member of the Silvertips in 2007-08. The right-hander’s mixture of aggressiveness and scoring ability was on display during this past season, as he was the only player in the WHL to average a point per game while averaging over three penalty minutes per game.

The 18-year old broke into the WHL in 2006-07 and immediately made his mark. Beach was awarded the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the WHL Rookie of the Year, after scoring 29 goals and tallying 32 assists during the season. Beach finished his WHL career with 56 goals and 121 points and logged 418 penalty minutes in 125 games, including five goals and 11 points in 15 career playoff games.

The second cousin of current Oakland A’s pitcher Rich Harden also gained valuable experience on the international level, as he helped Team Canada finish fourth at the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2007 and was named to the 2008 CHL Top Prospects Game. He also led Team British Columbia to a fourth-place finish at the 2007 Canada Winter Games, registering seven points in five games.

Tallon is confident that Beach will be given an opportunity to make the club during the team’s training camp.

“There were guys that we selected last year that were able to come in and make an impact right away,” said Tallon. “We’re going to give Kyle every opportunity to do the same thing. Our staff is going to get a good look during our camp, and will give him a fair shot at making the team.”
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