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One Step At A Time

by John Tranchina / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars may appear to be set at the goaltender position with incumbent Marty Turco in the prime of his career, but that didn’t stop the club from using their first selection in last month’s draft on young netminder Tyler Beskorowany.

While the 18-year-old Beskorowany is likely several years away from pulling a Stars jersey over his head, he does show lots of potential and has a solid base of size and skill to build on.

This week, Beskorowany is getting his first real taste of being part of an NHL organization, as he participates in the Stars’ 2008 Development Camp at the club’s practice facility at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Frisco. 

“Coming in here (Sunday) night and getting to know the guys and going on the ice and getting a feel for the puck, it feels pretty good,” the native of Sudbury, Ontario said. “It’s really great seeing the logo and stuff and recent players and names on the wall. It’s pretty incredible.”

One of the benefits to being a goalie in the Stars’ organization is that Beskorowany enjoyed receiving on-ice instruction from such a respected former NHLer (and Stanley Cup champion), player development / goaltending coach Andy Moog.

“Andy Moog’s a great guy, he obviously knows his stuff,” the 6-foot-4, 203-pound Beskorowany said. “He played in the NHL for a number of years. Hopefully, he can teach me a few things and I can take it back to my junior camp and then work on things and then bring it back here one day.”

After working with him on the ice for the first couple of days of the development camp, Moog came away with a good first impression of Beskorowany.

“First time I’ve seen him on the ice,” Moog acknowledged. “Obviously, he’s atypical of young goaltenders at this point - he’s big, fills the net, positionally and fundamentally real strong. I suppose, at the early age of 18, just a situation where he’s going to grow into his skills and abilities. He’s going to become bigger, he’s going to become stronger, he’s going to become quicker, but to this state, his skillset and his fundamentals are outstanding.”

Beskorowany is fully aware that he still has a lot of maturing and refining to do before he gets his shot at the NHL, particularly with an organization that has earned a reputation for developing good goaltenders, even if it takes until they’re 23 or 24 before they get their shot like former Stars Mike Smith and Dan Ellis, as well as Turco himself.

“They know what they’re doing here,” Beskorowany said. “It just shows with Mike Smith, it took him a little bit more of time, but he really evolved and became a pretty good goalie. They realize that it takes more time, so I think it’s an advantage to me.  Patience is pretty big in this league. I realize that and everybody else realizes that.” 

Speaking of Smith, at his size and with his style, Beskorowany has drawn some comparisons to the 6-foot-3 former Stars backup, who was traded to Tampa Bay in February as part of the deal that brought Brad Richards to Dallas. Not a bad guy to be compared to.

“A few scouts, they say I’m like Mike Smith a lot,” Beskorowany noted, adding that he doesn’t try to pattern his game after any one goalie in particular. “I try to be that guy that people model themselves after and try to make my own style.”

While he undoubtedly has a long way to go before he makes an impact at the NHL level, Beskorowany has already progressed quite a bit from where he was just a year ago. Most scouts didn’t even know who he was before the 2007-08 season began because he played Midget AAA hockey the previous two seasons.  He made the jump to the highest level of junior hockey in North America last September, earning a roster spot in training camp with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. 

Although the club struggled through a rebuilding year, finishing 20-41-2-5 and out of the playoffs, Beskorowany was one of the few bright spots, continually improving throughout the season and gradually drawing more and more interest from NHL scouts.  He went 12-19-3 and recorded a very respectable .900 save percentage and a 4.04 goals-against average.

“We saw him early and we thought he was intriguing, with his size and the ability,” noted Tim Bernhardt, the Stars’ Director of Amateur Scouting, a former goaltender himself. “It looked like he understood the game and was technically solid and from there, we kept following him, and month-by-month, we were happy with his growth and his improvement.”

Included among a string of outstanding performances was one game in October where he made an incredible 65 saves in a 5-2 loss.

“Yeah, against Windsor, I think they had 33 shots in the first period alone,” he recalled. “It was a little tiring, but that’s what I was there for.”

While it must have been difficult enduring a losing season like that, facing so many shots can be good for the development of a young goaltender.

“We’ve all experienced playing on a team where you get a lot of work and get a lot of shots and it’s a challenge to persevere,” Moog said. “It’s a challenge to fight through some negatives that come along with a team that doesn’t win all the time, but I think in the end, it makes you tougher, a competitor, and from Tyler’s standpoint, I think that’s one of his assets, he’s a battler, so he’s already put some of those things in place at an early age.”

“That’s what my goal was coming in, just get as much rubber as I could and as much experience as I can,” Beskorowany said of his heavy workload last season.

It’s that kind of attitude that also helped convince the Stars that he was their type of player, and they used their first pick in June’s Entry Draft (59th overall in the second round) to select him. He was the fifth goalie chosen.

“We just made a decision that we do need a goaltender in the system, and he was the guy that we wanted,” Bernhardt said. “It was a pretty good group of goalies this year and he was the guy that we felt we could get and wanted to get.”

Heading into next season with Owen Sound, Beskorowany’s club looks like it will be better, and there’s no question that his own performance will go a long way towards helping them compete for a playoff position.

“It sounds like this year, they’ve got an objective of making the playoffs and being a good team in the Ontario League and if that’s going to happen, he’s probably going to be a big part of it,” Moog said. “He’s going to be playing a big role in their team’s success.”

And maybe someday, with some more maturation and development, he’ll be playing a key role in the Stars’ success.

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