Luke Beaverson chuckled as he drove earlier this week through downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.
“Oh, yeah, the morgue,” said the Panther rookie.
A four-year starter at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, Beaverson, a 6-5, 220-pound defenseman, couldn’t believe his good luck when he moved into a house on the cheap with four teammates his junior season.
“The funny thing was one night I was sitting on the couch in the living room and I was like, ‘I can’t believe we got this place so cheap. What, did someone get killed in here?’ ” Beaverson recalled. “And one of my roommates said, ‘Yes.’ I thought the guy was pulling my chain, but he wasn’t.”
Beaverson’s roommates had neglected to tell him that a murder had previously occurred in the house. But for $350 a month, the morgue, as the house affectionately became known, was too good a deal to pass up.
“We googled what happened and eventually read the police report,” Beaverson said. “But for five college guys…”
Hey, you have to lay your head somewhere in Anchorage.
Beaverson, one of several Panther prospects headed to the team’s development camp next week in Caledon Village, Ontario, has worked his way up from being the 283rd selection in the 2004 Entry Draft to signing an entry-level contract with the Panthers earlier this month.
From Green Bay of the United States Hockey League to the ‘Morgue’ in Anchorage to a Panther prospect.
“He’s an old school guy,” said Duane Sutter, the Panthers’ director of player development.
“A great leader on and off the ice,” said Anchorage head coach Dave Shyiak.
And it seems Beaverson has fought for everything he’s gotten. He played two seasons (2002-04) in Green Bay before preparing to attend the University of North Dakota. But rather than attending North Dakota, Beaverson wound up in Anchorage.
“(North Dakota) reneged and I didn’t have any options,” Beaverson said. “I hadn’t talked to any colleges in a year and was planning on going back to juniors when Anchorage called.”
In Anchorage, Beaverson wound up playing 30 or more games in each of his four seasons. And, as he did in Green Bay, Beaverson wound up as team captain. When asked about spending four years in Anchorage, Beaverson said; “It was an unreal experience. It’s incredibly beautiful.”
“At first it was really hard,” he said. “But in the long run it was a benefit to me. Everything happens for a reason. I wound up getting more ice time playing in Anchorage.”
While Beaverson may not be the fastest skater, he’s physical, has a big reach, and “that makes up for any deficiencies.” He showed his potential at the end of last season when he played six games in Rochester of the American Hockey League (AHL). He didn’t score a point, but picked up 13 penalty minutes.
“That was good for me,” he said. “It gave me a feeling for what the AHL is like. I knew it would be different, but I didn’t know how different. It was more controlled. The players are really smart, really skilled. Overall, the foot speed didn’t change, but the puck movement was a lot faster.”
Beaverson said he’s looking forward to his first development camp to see “other players in the organization, have fun, and show (the Panthers) I’m working hard.”