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Beck returns after long injury

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Frankie Benvenuti
Special to the Sun

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October 28th, 2022. That’s the last time Jack Beck saw game action.

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Just a minute into the game against the Peterborough Petes, Beck fired home his second goal of the season, but was inadvertently taken down after releasing the puck. He was slow to get to his feet, and shortly after, left the game.

Through the first 10 games of the season, Beck was off to a strong start, piling up 13 points, and helping the 67’s to wins in their first nine games.

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Suddenly, the Richmond Hill, Ont. native was in an unfortunately familiar position: recovering for a lengthy period of time.

Last season, Beck suffered an injury in November, and didn’t return until February. History repeated itself in 2022, and early in 2023, and again, Beck found himself unable to play the sport he loves.

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“The big problem with both injuries was that I wasn’t able to do anything,” Beck said. “It got pretty boring. You’re just sitting there, you can’t work out, you can’t skate, and you can’t do much with the team, so you don’t really feel like you’re a part of it.”

Of course, the hockey side of the injury is unfortunate. The 67’s have been without Beck for the past 23 games, but the personal side is isolating.

“You’re living in a different city, so you don’t get to see your family too much,” Beck said. “When you get hockey taken away, it’s the worst thing — hockey is my life. It’s tough sitting on the sidelines watching everything.”

As he got healthier, Beck started to be around the team more often, watching practice and games, and serving as a cheerleader, of sorts. He started skating on his own, with the Calgary Flames even sending their skating coach at a point to ensure his development continued, but on Tuesday, Beck reached a milestone: the yellow practice jersey was gone.

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“It’s so nice,” Beck said with a laugh. “It feels like I’m a part of the team again.”

Each step of the recovery process has brought some relief for Beck, but he was always looking forward to stepping foot on the ice for a game once again. The first 10 games of the season had him “feeling confident,” but the abrupt end has essentially hit the reset button on his season.

Having already gone through a long-term injury, Beck says that he chose to adopt a different mindset this time around, using it as a chance to come back better. As the first game back nears, so do all the mixed emotions that he has felt at various stages of his career.

“When you get closer, you get anxious and excited,” Beck revealed. “You get butterflies to play again, it almost feels like the start of the season.”

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Already used to a high level of production, Beck knows that it’s never easy to hit the ground running, and certainly not at the OHL level. Right now, he’s not worried about scoring, he just wants to put in a good shift every time he’s on the ice.

“Don’t rush it, don’t overthink it, and don’t try to do too much, because if you do that, it will slow your production down,” Beck said. “We just have to play like a team, and I know it will pan out.”

A road trip has always been an exciting thought for Beck, but after months of not doing roadies with the boys, there’s something special about boarding the Barrie-bound bus. He’s looking forward to being a few steps down the hall from friends, and he’s excited for the time on the bus, something many players take for granted.

In the end, there’s only one goal for Beck: winning.

“All I want this team to do is win a Memorial Cup, I want to be a part of that,” Beck said.

Beck’s long-awaited return to the 67’s lineup comes on Thursday night, as the 67’s visit the Barrie Colts, before dropping in on the Niagara IceDogs Friday, and returning home on Sunday, hosting the Owen Sound Attack at 2:00 p.m.

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