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Beukeboom, Thomas bring NHL bloodlines to Canada's under-18 camp

A memorable hockey name is coming around again.

Defenceman Brock Beukeboom was one of 40 players invited Thursday by Hockey Canada to try out for Canada's under-18 men's hockey team this summer.

He's the son of four-time Stanley Cup champion Jeff Beukeboom, whose last name (BOO-kuh-boom) was entertaining for fans to chant and yell at both Northlands Coliseum and Madison Square Garden during his 14-year NHL career.

Twenty-two players will be chosen from selection camp Aug. 1-4 in Calgary for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament Aug. 11-15 in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Canada is the defending champion of the annual under-18 tournament. The team will be coached by Dave Lowry of the Calgary Hitmen.

Brock isn't the only youngster with NHL bloodlines invited to camp as forward Christian Thomas is the offspring of Steve, who played 20 years in the NHL.

Jeff won three Stanley Cups with the Oilers (1987-88, '90) and another with the New York Rangers (1994) as a hard-checking defenceman and compiler of penalty minutes. The last syllable of his name reflected his style of play.

While both father and son agree Brock is more finesse and less ferocity, Brock is blessed with his father's genes in the size department. Brock is six foot two, almost 200 pounds and still growing.

"I'm still hoping to grow a couple of inches and gain a couple more pounds and get to that size my dad was," Brock said Thursday from Uxbridge, Ont. "He put on two more inches at my age.

"But other than that, I think he and I are completely different players."

Jeff may have changed the trajectory of his son's career, however, by suggesting to Brock at 15 that he move off the wing and play defence. Jeff was coaching Brock's Central Ontario Wolves at the time.

Jeff says his advice came from an honest assessment of Brock's skills and not a desire to see his son play the same position he did.

"He's a lot better skater than I was," Jeff said. "He definitely would have played major junior as a winger, but I don't think he would have excelled.

"I'm a firm believer it's hard to find a lot of good defencemen in this game that can skate and make that good first pass."

So Brock's rookie year with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, which was also his father's junior team, was his first full season as a defenceman.

Hockey Canada head scout Al Murray thought enough of Brock's performance to rank him among the country's top dozen defenceman born in 1992 and invite him to camp.

Murray was impressed by Brock's steady play both with the Greyhounds and with Ontario at the world under-17 challenge last December.

"You wouldn't have known it was his first season as a defenceman," Murray said. "He was well-positioned and very calm with the puck and made smart decisions and moved it. He's a big defensive defenceman who has some bite.

"He's certainly not a lock to make the team. Very few guys come into this camp that are a lock because at this age there are a lot of players very close together."

Brock credits his father's advice for helping launch what he hopes could be an international career for Canada.

"If it wasn't for him, I don't know if I would have done as well as I have," Brock said. "Last year was all about having confidence in your play.

"If you aren't playing much as a young kid, some of those kids get really down on themselves and don't recover. I kept it positive and kept working hard in practices and that's the message that should be sent to all 16-and 17-year olds in the OHL and the CHL for that matter."

He's heard stories of fans yelling "Boom" when his father delivered a big check in the NHL. That's a possibility in Brock's future too, now that he's learned intricacies of playing defence.

"I think I've turned that learning curve and I think next year I'm going to take on a bigger role and the team is going to count on me to deliver those big hits," Brock said.

"I don't know if I'll turn out anything like my dad, but if I have some of the same qualities I think I should be all right and good to go."

Many of Canada's best players aren't available for the world under-18 championships in April because they're in the playoffs with their club teams.

The annual international summer tournament for under-18 players is a strong indicator of Canada's talent in a particular birth year, which is 1992 this year.

"The quality of strength through all three positions, forwards, defence and goalies, I think top to bottom this group has real good strength in all three positions," Murray said. "We never look at quotas, but the way this happened to work out, the balance across the country is pretty good."

Fourteen WHL players, 10 Ontario players and 11 from Quebec and the Atlantic provinces were invited.

Other players invited with hockey bloodlines include Kamloops Blazers forward Brendan Ranford, nephew of former Oiler goaltender Bill Ranford.

Seattle goaltender Calvin Pickard is the younger brother of Chet Pickard, who won a gold medal with Canada's junior hockey team this year.


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