These last few weeks we’ve seen plenty of new players join the ranks of the Milwaukee Admirals. Some were drafted by the Nashville Predators or others recruited right out of college. There isn’t much time for them to get in games so most first impressions can speak volumes moving forward.
On April 10, 2011, Taylor Beck was playing in his fourth professional hockey game with the Admirals. What wound up happening in that game would become a sight we’ve been all too familiar seeing in Milwaukee.
Beck was playing right on net. Rather than bash a puck into the pads of netminder Jordan Pearce from close range he had the awareness to know where his linemates were on the ice. Cory Conacher was open. Beck fed him. And Conacher scored his second goal of the game. It was Beck’s first career point as a professional hockey player. He has gone on to produce 138 points between the Admirals and Predators ever since.
Beck was born and raised in St. Catharines, Ontario. It was his family that helped influence him to become a hockey player. His father played baseball. His brother played hockey. And, from a young age, he took to the ice. As far as sports go – he played lacrosse during the summer months and hockey when winter hit Canada. When it was time to decide which types of goals he was going to score and set for himself – it was always going to be on the ice.
“I played lacrosse and hockey very seriously when I was growing up,” said Taylor Beck. “I kind of got to an age where I had to decide between the two and hockey was always my number one passion overall.”
That decision came prior to his selection in the OHL Draft by the Guelph Storm. His first junior season came in 2007-08 where he would tally 21 points (7 goals, 13 assists) in fifty-six games. His follow up 2008-09 season saw him elevate his game by producing 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) in sixty-seven games. That season he played with Michael Latta in Guelph and the two would be drafted at the end of that season in the third round – two picks apart – by the Nashville Predators in the 2009 NHL Draft.
After four-years with the Storm in juniors – playing 246 games and scoring 267 points (110 goals, 157 assists) – it was time for Beck to hit the ice as a professional hockey player. Destination: Milwaukee in the thick of the playoff season, 2010-11.
“That was good experience with Lane Lambert,” said Beck of his first taste of Admirals hockey. “We went pretty far that year in the playoffs. That was a great experience and that really ramped me up for my ’20-year old’ year – which was definitely a learning experience from the start.”
With the recent 2013-14 regular season in the books Beck now has a career total of 131 points (44 goals, 87 assists) from 193 games as a member of the Admirals. That puts him eighth on the Admirals AHL All-Time scoring list. While most are aware of his talents on offense it is his evolution on defense that has been the single biggest learning experience as a member of the team.
“Penalty Kill is really something I focused on,” said Beck. “Whatever I have to do to get to the NHL is what I’m prepared to do. Whether I have to Penalty Kill, be a fourth-line grinder, score, whatever I have to do. I just want to have a well rounded game so I can be [in the NHL] soon.”
This season has proved to be Beck’s best all-around season as a professional. While he may not have enjoyed much playing time at the NHL level this season, only seven games as opposed to sixteen last season, he has taken his time with Milwaukee seriously. There hasn’t been any sour grapes regarding a lack of NHL time from him – only what is it that can be done to better shape up his game. It’s something that teammates and coaches alike all have taken notice of.
Mark Van Guilder on Taylor Beck’s play this season:
1/6/14, Dean Evason on Taylor Beck:
He has been the team’s real workhorse this season. While plenty of acclaim, justifiably so, can be given to the great performances from young players such as Colton Sissons and Miikka Salomaki this season – Beck has been right there with them. He has been an instrumental figure on the forward lines adding skill on all areas of the ice. If you want a real slice of his improvement this season you need only look to his goal from the regular season home finale.
Speed. Power. Confidence. Skill. Finishing. He showcased everything about himself that he has honed in on this entire season on one play. And yet, as crafty as that goal was from this season there might be an even better example of his high level of play from 2013-14.
With a lengthy shift put in, all while getting chewed out in the defensive half of the ice, Beck proceeded to carry the puck as deep as he could as his linemates could get a change. Despite being on fumes he was able to skate around Dylan Labbe, change his angle of approach to square up Johan Gustafsson, get a shot off before Brad Winchester pressured him off his shooting lane, and beat the Iowa Wild single-handedly.
The Admirals open up the playoffs on Friday night. At 22-years old, Beck is among five other players on the team who have played in three-or-more AHL playoffs. Those other players by age: Francis Wathier (29), Joe Piskula (29), Bryan Rodney (30), Mark Van Guilder (30), and Scott Ford (34).
This will be Beck’s fourth playoff run with the Admirals. 2010-11, eliminated in the second round in game seven against the Houston Aeros. 2011-12, eliminated in the first round by the Abbotsford Heat. 2012-13, eliminated in the first round by the Texas Stars. There are big hopes from him that this year’s team proves to be something great.
“This is by far the best team that I’ve played on since I’ve been here,” said Beck. “We’ve got everything. We have four really good deep lines. We got great defense that can shut their top players down and get the forwards the puck. I’m really looking forward to the playoff run we’ve got.”
Full Interview with Taylor Beck:
How do you feel Taylor Beck has performed this season? Should he start in the NHL next season?