MORRISBURG – Local junior hockey player Cole Beckstead is going to the United States to play NCAA hockey. Beckstead,, 20, from Morrisburg has committed to play for Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
“I went down a couple of times, and got a really good feel for the campus and the town,” he said. “Between hockey and academics, I feel that it is the best decision to go there.”
Beckstead said he had a few schools to choose from, both in Canada and the US, “but I think the offer that fit me the best was from Skidmore.”
Skidmore College is a private liberal arts college and an NCAA Level Three school for athletics. The school’s hockey team, the Thoroughbreds, play in the 10-team New England Hockey Conference. The team had an overall record of 13 wins, 10 losses, and three ties in the 2018-19 season and were 9-6-3 in their conference.
“I didn’t focus just on the hockey, but also academics and for the overall opportunity,” he said.
“I had a few to choose from, but I think ultimately the offer that fit me the best was from Skidmore,” Beckstead said.
That feeling was mutual at Skidmore College as team head coach Rob Hutchison told The Leader.
“Cole is a fantastic player. We first saw him playing for Kingston and we learned quickly he would be a great fit.”
Hutchinson said that Beckstead’s maturity and the importance he put on academics was an important factor as well.
“We know what we are up against when players choose schools, they have options. Cole is the right fit for this team and we hit a home run him coming here.”
At Skidmore, Beckstead said he plans on having a double major, in political science and international business.
Beckstead started with the South Dundas Lions but early on moved to the Rideau St. Lawrence Kings. He played midget hockey for the Upper Canada Cyclones before being drafted by the Nepean Raiders in 2015 in the Central Canada Hockey League.
Beckstead was traded to the Kingston Voyageurs in the Ontario Junior Hockey League before the start of the 2015-16 season and played three-and-a-half seasons with the ‘Vees’. He was named captain of the Voyageurs before the start of the 2018-19 season.
Beckstead was traded in December 2018 to the Carleton Place Canadians in the CCHL.
“[Kingston] wasn’t looking as strong and wasn’t where I wanted to spend my final year of junior,” Beckstead said. The Voyageurs were in the middle of an ownership change and he said that there was a lot of pressure in the city to perform on the ice.
“I was traded to Carleton Place and it was a better situation,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time in Carleton Place. We had four good lines, six good defenceman, two good goalies. It is a great place to play.”
Despite breaking his finger in the regular season and being off for two months, Beckstead’s stats improved with the Canadians as the season progressed. He put up 10 goals and eight assists in the regular season, and notched another two goals and three assists in the playoffs for Carleton Place. The Canadians advanced to the CCHL championship Bogart Cup, but lost to the Ottawa Junior Senators in five games.
“We had a strong playoff run, but things didn’t go our way in that final,” he said. “We were putting up shots against their goalie but [Ottawa] was just saving everything.”
Off ice, academics has been an important part of his time playing junior hockey. After graduating high school, Beckstead has been taking courses at Queen’s University in Kingston. That academic effort paid off as he was named to the CCHL University/College Academic All-Star team in March 2019. Beckstead also won his team’s scholastic award, and was named the fan favourite player for Carleton Place.
Beckstead is happy with his choice of school, and looking forward to the upcoming season.
“I couldn’t be happier with how things are going, and where I am heading,” he said. “Hopefully I can step in as a freshman and make an immediate impact in the program. The direction the program at Skidmore is heading in seems like it is going to be a very strong team next season.”
Beckstead is the son of Ernie and Lisa Beckstead.