When Colton Beck signed his professional tryout agreement with the Iowa Wild three seasons ago, all he wanted was a shot.
Undrafted, but having a good season with the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL, the Langley, B.C., native simply hoped someone would notice he had opened the 2015-16 season with nine goals and 14 assists in just 18 games.
“I was just looking for someone to give me a chance,” Beck said. “I knew I was capable, but I had to find someone who was willing to stick out their neck for me.”
Someone did, though Beck to this day isn’t exactly sure who noticed him first in the Minnesota Wild organization. He suspects it may have been Brent Flahr — then Iowa’s general manager and now assistant general manager with the Philadelphia Flyers — because that’s who called him in November of 2015.
“’Flahrsy’ was the one to make the first call,” Beck said. “It was at a time when they were struggling and I was scoring a lot in the East Coast.”
Four years later, Beck turned his PTO into a career that now holds the franchise record for games played by an Iowa Wild player. He broke the previous record of 250 games, set my former teammate Zack Mitchell, on Feb. 22 against San Jose.
That record is likely to grow substantially as a result of Beck signing a two-year, two-way contract with Minnesota on Nov. 1. The contract was his first NHL agreement.
“It was a reflection of how much he has grown and how much he means to our team,” said Wild head coach Tim Army, who’s in his first year with the Wild. “We want him in the organization because he is continuing to develop and certainly hasn’t hit his ceiling.”
Army said he knew nothing about Beck when he took the Iowa job, except that those who knew him regarded the left-handed forward highly.
“I was told I didn’t have to worry about him,” Army said. “He skates hard, he is smart, he plays with tempo and pace. And while I didn’t know for sure he would be a really good penalty killer, I was told he was the kind of player I could rely on because he was so consistent in what he did.”
Consistency has long been a hallmark of how Beck plays. He has only missed two games so far this season due to injury and has played center and both wings, as well as having a major role on the penalty kill. His 14 goals so far this season is a career-high with the Wild and his career-high in points (28) is within reach with six weeks left in the season.
“He is a maintenance-free player,” Army said, comparing him to NHL veteran Joe Sacco, who Army coached at Anaheim and Washington. “They are the kinds of guys who come ready to play every day, whether it is in practice or a game.”
Gerry Mayhew, Beck’s roommate on the road, said his accomplishments are the result of hard work and a great attitude. Like Beck, Mayhew signed a tryout agreement during the 2016-17 season and is now having a career year as the club’s top goal scorer in 2018-19.
“We’ve become really good friends and have pushed each other since I got here,” Mayhew said. “He worked his way up the ladder to get here and is one of the hardest workers for sure. He always has a great attitude.”
Mayhew also said Beck isn’t above some road tomfoolery.
“He is always putting things in my shoes when I am not in the room,” Mayhew said. “One time it was used coffee grounds.”
For Beck, earning the franchise record of most games played meant a lot to him, particularly when he received an ovation when it was announced from Iowa fans.
“Coming here on a PTO, I knew it was going to be a day-to-day thing when you don’t know what is going to happen next or even if you are going to say,” Beck said. “Now to look back and be able to say I earned it, this makes me very proud of what I’ve achieved and I look forward to keeping it going.”
Army said that is exactly what the Wild have in mind as well, as Beck has become a leader of the team. Beck wears an “A” on his sweater if either alternate captains Mike Liambas or Matt Read isn’t on the ice.
“He brings character and is an integral part of the team,” Army said. “His commitment to his work and doing the right thing at all times is exactly why he is the franchise leader in games played.”
Beck’s career since arriving in Iowa also has had some big moments off the ice, even though he and his family return to British Columbia in the offseason.
“I came here dating my wife and then got engaged at Christmas time my first year here,” Beck said. “After my second year, we got married.”
Then last April, Alyssa and Colton became parents when son, Nash, was born and became the family’s native Iowan.
“There have been a lot of big life moments for me that have happened along the way here playing for the Iowa Wild,” Beck said. “This is definitely a second home for us. It is a place that will be forever in our hearts and place we hope to stay for years.”