Wild’s Beckman grateful for familial support

Photo: Tim Garland

📝 by Mitchell Courtney | AHL On The Beat

Iowa Wild forward Adam Beckman is known in the locker room for his infectious personality and his tendency to lift the morale of those around him. His happy-go-lucky disposition is apparent in everything that he does both at the rink and away from it. Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to parents Janet and Dale Beckman, Adam’s journey is rooted in humility and modesty.

At three years old, Adam would join his father Dale at parent-and-child skates in the Saskatoon area. Dale desired to introduce Adam to the fundamental aspects of skating as early as he could. Early on, Dale noticed that Beckman had an aptitude for balance and coordination on the ice.

“I played a little bit of hockey myself and I was around the game a lot,” Dale said. “I noticed right away that he was a natural as far as his balance was concerned.”

For Adam, his time on the ice extends farther back than his own memories.

“I’ve been on the ice as long as I can remember,” Adam said. “Where I am from, everybody kind of plays. Even if you don’t play for a long time, most people at least start with hockey.”

When he was not at the rink skating with his father and developing the skills necessary for success in the game of hockey, Beckman was watching his older brother, Luc, and older sister, Sydney, participate in practices and games. He spent that time wondering when he might get the chance to play in an organized setting.

“He had two older siblings, so he was always at the rink,” Janet said. “Dale worked evenings, so I would take Adam to the rink with me to watch his brother and sister. He was always asking, ‘When do I get to start?’”

When Adam was five years old, he got his wish. Janet and Dale signed him up to play organized hockey for the first time. However, even more hockey was taking place in the Beckmans’ backyard, where Dale would build a rink for the kids to enjoy in the winter months.

“I put a sport court down, so I would just flood over the top of that,” Dale said. “I worked evenings, so I never really got to watch him play during the week, but I would come home around 11 p.m. and I would flood the ice. Adam would be out there at 7 a.m. His passion for the game has always been there.”

As is the case for most kids who fall in love with a sport at a young age, it becomes a challenge to get them to take any sort of a break. Janet and Dale were amazed at Adam’s willingness to be on the ice as often as he was.

“He would always be out there. We never had to say, ‘Go out there and practice,’” Janet said. “It was hard to get him off the ice.”

For Adam, the memories he formed on his backyard rink remain with him to this day.

Adam Beckman and his cousin, Grace

“I loved playing hockey at home in Saskatoon,” Beckman said. “There is no feeling like playing in the backyard and having fun.”

Adam’s childhood backyard rink has a sort of mystical appeal to it, as it has helped to develop more than a few high-level hockey talents. Among those who participated in backyard rink escapades at the Beckman household were Adam’s cousins, Collin, Grace and Sophie Shirley. Collin, Adam’s elder by five years, played five seasons of major junior hockey for Kootenay and Kamloops of the Western Hockey League before playing three seasons at the University of Saskatchewan. Collin is currently playing professionally in Poland. Grace and Sophie are both currently playing hockey at the University of Wisconsin.

“[The Shirleys] would come over for our annual Christmas event and they would all be on the rink,” Dale said. “They all really enjoyed just being out there and being kids.”

Also participating in games on Adam’s backyard rink was 2020 first-round draft pick and current Calgary Flames prospect Connor Zary. Connor and Adam grew up together and developed a strong friendship both on and off the ice.

“[Connor and Adam] have always been best buddies,” Janet said. “Dale is very good friends with Connor’s father, Scott, and we would go to Connor’s birthday parties. [Adam and Connor] both loved hockey and they were always competing on the backyard rink.”

The two would even take turns donning goalie pads, simulating shootouts and pretending to be their favorite NHL players. In fact, Adam desired to play goalie long before he became an NHL prospect as a forward. So much so that Janet had to speak with Adam about giving other players an opportunity between the pipes at youth tournaments in the summertime.

“Adam actually wanted to be a goalie when he was younger,” Janet said. “They were supposed rotate goalies at tournaments, and Adam kept playing in net. I told him, ‘You have to play out a bit.’ He just wanted to play in net at the time.”

By the time Adam reached the age where he was playing in competitive tournaments throughout Canada, his focus had shifted to playing the game as a forward. As Adam and Connor grew older, they experienced what it was like to play with new teammates away from their friends and outside of their local teams.

“By the time you hit pee-wee, you start to play citywide instead of just locally,” Adam said. “All of the kids in your city get split up into new teams so you get to meet a lot of new people.”

This experience gave Adam an opportunity to play against even more top-notch players in his age group. He enjoyed the increased competition, and he remains connected with many of the kids he played with and/or against in tournaments as a kid. These experiences were a major part of the growth of Adam’s game as he matured.

“There were a lot of kids in my province who ended up playing at a high level as well, like Braden Schneider and Kaedan Korczak,” Adam said. “I grew up playing with and/or against guys like that in AAA tournaments or club hockey, and it certainly helped me become a better player.”

Korczak was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round (41st overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft, and Schneider was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round (19th overall) in 2020. Although it seems like that could be the peak of Adam’s competition at the youth level, his experience at the Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament in Edmonton in 2011 contained a number of current professional hockey players. The Brick Invitational is an annual tournament designed to showcase high-level youth hockey players from all across North America in a competitive forum.

At that tournament in 2011, Adam played against a list of players drafted by NHL teams that included but was not limited to fellow Minnesota Wild draft pick Matt Boldy, Jack Hughes (New Jersey), Brendan Brisson and Peyton Krebs (Vegas), Ryan Johnson (Buffalo), Cam York (Philadelphia) and Kirby Dach (Chicago).

“It was the first tournament I played in that had a professional atmosphere,” Adam said. “There were a ton of people watching us, a ton of video cameras on us and it was just a lot of fun. It is definitely my favorite memory of playing youth hockey in Canada.”

After showcasing his skills in youth tournaments and leagues in Canada, Beckman was chosen by the Spokane Chiefs with the 96th overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. He was excited to be drafted, but disappointed that he had been selected later than some of the players he competed against at the Brick Invitational Tournament. However, Dale says that the Beckman family will cherish that moment forever.

“For him to get drafted by Spokane, that was a real highlight for our family,” Dale said. “He was a late bloomer so he was around 5-foot-2 or 5-foot-3 when he was drafted. I think his size definitely played a role in where he was selected.”

Adam quickly proved he belonged in the WHL, recording 62 points in 68 games in his first full season in Spokane in 2018-19. After a rise up NHL draft boards, he was selected by Minnesota (75th overall) in 2019. He returned to the Chiefs for the 2019-20 season and promptly tallied 107 points in just 63 games. Impressed by his production, the Wild signed Adam to a three-year entry-level contract on Mar. 23, 2020.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding his draft projection and where he may be selected, Adam, Dale and Janet were unsure if they wanted to attend Adam’s draft in person.

“The day before the draft, we were not sure if we were even going to attend in person,” Dale said. “I went into [Adam’s] room with a coin and said, ‘Heads or tails? Heads means we are going and tails means we are staying home.’ Thankfully, it landed on heads and we ended up going to Vancouver.”

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The moment Adam was drafted into the NHL was one that the Beckman family will never forget, but his journey was far from set in stone at that point. Adam split time between the Iowa Wild and the Spokane Chiefs in the 2020-21 season, and then he impressed at Minnesota’s training camp prior to the 2021-22 season. In the NHL preseason, he scored three goals in four games, including a game-winning goal in overtime in the preseason finale. Despite his impressive showing, he started the season in Iowa, where he quickly established himself as one of the team’s top offensive threats, recording three points in Iowa’s first three games.

On Oct. 29, 2021, Adam was recalled to Minnesota and remained hopeful that he would make his NHL debut in the coming days. Shortly thereafter, Janet and Dale received the news that their son would be making his Minnesota Wild debut against the Colorado Avalanche the very next day. At that point, the Beckmans made plans to travel to Denver to witness Adam’s first NHL contest.

“It was a whirlwind. We were on our way to Winnipeg, and we got the news that Adam was making his NHL debut in Denver,” Janet said. “We had to get our COVID-19 tests and organize our travel, and we literally walked into the stands as he hit the ice for his solo lap.”

All of the late nights flooding their backyard rink and long days at rinks across Canada for tournaments had finally culminated into one fantastic and memorable moment for the Beckman family. Through it all, as Adam so often does, he credited his parents for giving him the chance to live out his NHL dream.

“My mom and dad made so many sacrifices for me and my siblings,” Adam said. “They put forth a pretty hefty investment just to fund it and make it all possible. The time that they gave up and the effort they put forth was incredible.”

Though he has learned many lessons in his lifetime, Adam maintains that his parents taught him one lesson in particular that still resonates with him as he follows his dreams of being an NHL mainstay.

“My parents taught me how important effort and commitment are from a young age,” he said. “You always have to work hard no matter what level you’re at, and that is something they instilled in me from the very beginning.”