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'MY PHONE BLEW UP'

Imagine not playing any games in your draft year. That was the challenge facing Jack Beck in a season like no other

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

We all know the feeling.

You load up the car and take off on a freewheeling, weekend getaway, only to have that onerous, 'oh no' moment a few hours into the trek.

That phone charger you suddenly need so bad?

Yeah…

You left it on the counter. And it's too late to turn back now.

"Right as I got picked, my phone blew up," a smiling Jack Beck told Brendan Parker of Flames TV. "It won't even turn on now."

Beck, a sixth-round pick of the Flames - 168th overall - could hardly believe the reaction. Unlike many of the prospects that had the fortune of setting up shop in the family living room, Beck was busy training in Ann Arbour, Mich., forcing his loved ones to reach out virtually.

Surrounded by players with the U.S. National Team Development Program, he felt a crush of anxiety build up over the day.

One by one, players were being scooped before him.

But when the time came, it was nothing like he'd ever experienced.

"Watching them go, congratulating them, and seeing all the 'feels' when they were being drafted made me even more excited," Beck said of the unique, draft-day setup.

"I'm super excited and I couldn't be more honoured to be drafted by such a great organization like Calgary. I get to stay in Canada - best country in the world, I like to stay. So, it's great to stay at home, stay local.

"I couldn't be happier."

 

 

The truth is, Beck had already waited this long - what's another few hours?

The 5-foot-11, 163-lb. winger was one of an untold number of players in this year's draft that hasn't played a single game in the past 12 months.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Ontario provincial government and local health officials to cancel the OHL season outright after a months-long debate over its feasibility.

By then, the options were limited. And with no U18s to look forward to, Beck was facing an uphill climb at the most critical point of his young career.

"To watch the USHL guys, college guys, and all these other leagues playing, and it was tough not playing, to be honest," Beck recalls. "When we got the got the news that the OHL was not resuming, we were all heartbroken.

 That was definitely a tough thing, but everybody battles adversity and I think adversity is what makes a player along the way.

"I kept working out at home, I came down here to Michigan and started working out down here, and I also made my way to Sweden over Christmas and got some training over there.

"I like to think that even though you're not playing, you can be a first-rounder, seventh-rounder, I don't think it really matters until you step on the ice and (make) a name for himself. That's what I'm excited to do and I can't wait for next year.

"It's a huge year and I think our Ottawa team is going to be really good as well."

The 2019-20 campaign was Beck's first in the OHL after putting up huge numbers with the Toronto Marlboroughs in the GTHL and U16 Triple-A programs.

As a 16-year-old, he put up 19 points (7G, 12A) in 56 games with the Ottawa 67s, and was looking to take a big step this past year.

That didn't happen - through no fault of his own - but Beck still made the most of his time away from the rink.

"I've always been a smaller kid," he said. "When I was growing up, I struggled to gain weight. But over COVID, it definitely helped me a lot. I went on meal plans and different workout (programs). The biggest thing for me was getting bigger, faster, stronger.

"I had a long time to do that.

"I've been waiting 16 months now. I'm so excited to showcase my skill and my work ethic and all that. I think that goes hand in hand with every OHL player. Everyone's been waiting for their chance to show what they have and I definitely think it's going to be a fun time coming back to the season, being back at home in Ottawa and showing fans what we've got.

"We're ready to come back with another great year."

 

 

Beck describes himself as a skilled forward that drives the play with his elite vision and high hockey IQ.

He also has an infectious personality that his teammates love, creating a positive culture that resonates in the dressing room, straight through the bench.

All three were attractive qualities for the Flames, who made a concerted effort to either discover players that were largely unknown to other teams, or that the area scouts knew a lot about.

"He fit the bill," said the Flames' Director of Amateur Scouting, Tod Button. "We have him as a winger/centre. He's pretty versatile. ... He's a scrappy kid, more of a play-making slash vision-type guy. We think we got a real good one here even though we didn't see him play."

That, of course, is the next step for Beck. He's excited about the prospect of getting back on the ice with his 'mates and showing the hockey world what they were missing last year.

But first, he wants to go home to Ontario and celebrate the draft like one should.

In person.

Without those dreaded low-battery warnings.

"That's always your dream," Beck said. "I haven't seen my family in like three months. It will be nice to go back, see them and celebrate this accomplishment with them."

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