Local pro hockey: Watertown Wolves have gone far and wide to reach title series | Wolves

WATERTOWN – The Watertown Wolves have searched not only in North America, but nearly around the world for talent that they hope will help them win another title.

Goalie Adam Beukeboom may just be a rookie, but he’s already won a pro title. Beukeboom, a first-year pro in North America, won a championship in Iceland three seasons ago.

Beukeboom has now helped guide the Wolves to the Federal Prospects Hockey League final, which begins tonight when they play at the Columbus River Dragons at 7:30 at the Columbus Civic Center in Columbus, Ga. Game 2 and Game 3, if necessary, will be played Sunday and Monday in Watertown.

“We’ve got a great team, a really great team,” Beukeboom said of the Wolves. “It’s a tight group of guys, I don’t think you see a group that we have very often in pro hockey, and I’m sure any guy in that room will say that. It’s been a fantastic experience, for sure. ”

Beukeboom made his pro debut in Iceland with Skautafélag Akureyrar in the nation located in the far stretches of the North Atlantic Ocean, winning the Icelandic Hockey League title in the 2018-19 season. He was honored as the league’s MVP.

“In Iceland, we ended up winning the thing, so I have a little bit of experience in these types of games and stuff,” the 27-year-old Beukeboom said. “So it’s good to get back at it in the playoffs.”

Beukeboom played the past two seasons and part of this season in Europe. After he played professionally in Serbia in 2019-20 and then went on to play for a pro team in Germany for seven games during this season, he returned to his native Canada.

“I’ve kind of been all over the place,” Beukeboom said. “It’s been fun.”

Beukeboom then signed with the Wolves and made his debut with the team in February. He has since won 14 of 19 decisions in the regular season, sporting a 2.49 goals-against average, as well as a .929 save percentage.

“I started this year with (TuS Harsefeld in Germany) and some things happened, I got hurt,” Beukeboom said. “But once I got back, I ended up finding a new team here and it’s been fantastic. I feel like I really fit in here, it’s awesome. ”

“He’s playing great,” Watertown coach Brent Clarke said. “When I was looking at who is starting, you have to take a lot of things into account, we have two great goaltenders and it was really a coin flip as to who would play. But I kind of went with (Beukeboom) because he won a championship in Iceland and he was the No. 1 (goalie) there. He’s seen some playoff adversity, for sure. ”

In the playoffs, Beukeboom started both games against Carolina, allowing only two goals on 50 shots faced to backstop Watertown to a sweep series semifinal.

“We’re going to battle and that’s playoff hockey,” Beukeboom said Sunday night after the series-clinching win. “I’m not sure what the score was in Columbus, I think they won like (5-1) or something. But I think the more common game is going to be the tight ones, so I think as long as we play well defensively and I’m doing my job or whoever’s in net, we’ve got a shot. ”

Veteran goalie Gregory Hussey, who won eight of 10 decisions with the Wolves in the regular season, served as Beukeboom’s backup in the semifinals.

“It was kind of a group decision with our leadership, but we have two very good goalies,” Clarke said.

Beukeboom is one of several rookies on the Wolves, who have plenty of veteran leadership.

Wolves team captain Justin MacDonald, also the team’s assistant coach, is seeking his first pro title after a standout regular season. He set franchise and career highs in goals scored (60) and points (117). MacDonald is also the first player in league history to reach 60 goals in a season.

“It’s good, obviously the job’s not done,” MacDonald said. “If we play well for 120 minutes, we win. We’re just playing one period at a time, one shift at a time, but the end goal is obviously winning a championship. ”

After tonight, the series will shift to Watertown as Game 2 will be played at 7 pm Sunday and a third game, if necessary, is slated for 6:30 pm

“The same as it always is, there’s excitement and we haven’t had that for a while,” Clarke said, “but we want to finish this thing off.”

The Wolves are making their second trip down south in less than a week as they traveled to Winston-Salem, NC, for the opener of their semifinals, which they won, 4-1, against Carolina last Friday.

But they team experienced travel issues as they had problems with the team bus, forcing the postponement of Game 2 of the series from last Saturday to last Sunday in Watertown. The Wolves responded with a 3-1 win over the Thunderbirds to sweep the two-game series.

In the championship series, Saturday will serve as a travel day as both teams make their way from Georgia to Watertown.

“There’s no excuse at this point, once you get to the rink and you get your equipment on and you throw your jersey on, you’ve got one job to do and that’s win a hockey game,” said veteran forward Ahmed Mahfouz, who is in his first season with the Wolves after winning the FPHL title with three other teams. “No matter what the trip is, we’re ready for the finals.”

The Wolves are bidding for their third title in the league as Clarke guided the team to the Commissioner’s Cup in 2014-15 in the team’s first season on the circuit. Watertown later won the 2017-18 crown, marking the first-and-only time a team won multiple league titles.

“The mood is still just the job isn’t finished,” Mahfouz said. “That’s all it comes down to and everyone in that dressing room knows that, this is just a part of the journey, and we’ve got a 120 minutes to go to get the ultimate goal and that’s a championship ring on your finger.”

Beukeboom, a native of Sundre, Alberta, is a cousin of former NHL players Jeff Beukeboom and Joe Nieuwendyk.

He added: “It’s the best time of year, right? I think if we show up and put our best on the line, we should come home with this. ”

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