Beukeboom family reaches Iceland
by Ivan Tchechankov|12 OCT 2018
Skautafelag Akureyrar goalie Adam Beukeboom makes a save against Irbis-Skate Sofia captain Alexei Yotov.
photo: Rusi Karaivanov
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To have a rare surname always attracts attention, for good or bad. And you have to be ready for both. In team sports particularly. The surname is usually on the back of the jersey and is visible for everyone in attendance and watching on the TV screen. And if you have a famous family member there is an added burden to justify or change the expectations, that were brought from people’s memories of your relative.

In the hockey world the surname Beukeboom is well known because of Jeff, who was a hard-hitting defenceman for the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers in the NHL and won the Stanley Cup four times – 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1994. Jeff Beukeboom had quite a physical presence on the ice (1.96 m, 105 kg) and was a fan favourite for his bodychecks and eagerness to protect his teammates. He played with Brian Leetch on the Rangers’ top defensive pairing and was an alternate captain.  

In the end of September, the Winter Palace in Sofia, Bulgaria, was hosting the first round of the 2018/19 IIHF Continental Cup. During the three days of this round-robin tournament a young and charismatic Canadian goalie was one of the main reasons for the surprise triumph of the Icelandic champion Skautafelag Akureyrar. The name on the back of the jersey? Beukeboom!

“Yeah, Jeff Beukeboom is a relative of mine. I have never met a Beukeboom I wasn’t related to. He is a cousin of my father,” said Adam, when he was approached with the question about his famous surname. “We are a big hockey family. Jeff has two brothers – John and Brian. They both played hockey as well. And Jeff’s son Brock was drafted in NHL few years ago. On top of that the great Joe Nieuwendyk is also a cousin of my father Mike.” Sounds confusing? There is more to come. Actually there are at least eight Beukebooms that have played organized hockey. 

To have a better understanding of all family ties between the Beukebooms and Nieuwendyks we have to go further back in history. After World War II a large number of Dutch immigrants moved to Canada. In 1952 Adriaan Jozef Kea, later known as Ed Kea, was four years old when his family moved from Netherlands to Collingwood, Ontario. Kea became a hockey player and had 583 games in NHL with Atlanta Flames (1974-79) and St. Louis Blues (1979-83). He was an uncle of Jeff Beukeboom and Joe Nieuwendyk. 

“They were exceptional hockey players and a good example for the next generations, but all of them were players. I’m the first goalie in the wider family. When I was growing up I was looking at some goalies and said to myself I want to be like them. This is more or less the reason that I decided to play this position. Sometimes I regret being a goalie and even had thoughts that I would be a better player, but I’m here – between the pipes,” said Adam Beukeboom, who made a name for himself with spectacular play in Sofia.

In the first day of the tournament he made 34 saves in regulation time and OT against the host Irbis-Skate and four more during the penalty shootout for the 5-4 win for the Icelandic small-town team from Akureyri. The entertaining match-up proved to be the battle for the first place as both teams won their next games. Adam Beukeboom allowed a total of only one goal and made 28 saves in the last two games and finished the tournament with the best stats – 1.62 GAA and 92.54 save percentage (62/67). Three from the five goals that he allowed were scored on a power play for the opposite team.

“Everybody says that it’s good to know people, but when it comes to hockey it’s more to be in the right place at the right time. I have the best hockey family that I probably could have, but I wouldn’t say that I went further ahead because of my hockey family. For sure I started hockey because of the family. But in this journey I worked hard, didn’t get any breaks, it was all my work. It’s cool to have someone with such a background that you can talk to. They did the same things that I’m going through and if I want they can give me an advice here and there, but I’m a goalie and it’s a little bit different,” answered the always smiling goaltender, when asked about the positives of coming from a hockey family.  

Joe Nieuwendyk’s parents immigrated from the Netherlands to Canada in 1958. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011 after a decorated 20-year career in the NHL. He won three Stanley Cups with three different teams (Calgary, Dallas and New Jersey) and was part of the Team Canada that won the gold medal at 2002 Winter Olympics. Joe had 564 goals and 562 assists in 1257 regular season’s games and won the Calder Cup as rookie of the year in 1988, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership qualities on and off the ice in 1995 and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoffs MVP in 1999.

“My close family moved to Alberta, where I grew up. Everybody else stayed in Ontario, where the hockey family was. We kept in touch, but we got together only for funerals. Unfortunately this is how it goes. We don’t have family reunions every weekend. My dad keeps in touch with everybody regularly. When Joe was still playing in Calgary my dad had tickets for Flames’ games,” recalled Adam, who was born in 1994 in Sundre, Alberta. From 1987 to 1991 Nieuwendyk was in the Flames’ uniform and his cousin Jeff Beukeboom was with the Edmonton Oilers. So they faced each other in the Battle of Alberta. “The funny thing about that is that I grew up right in the middle between Calgary and Edmonton. When Jeff and Joe were playing there I wasn’t born yet. But my family was cheering for them, whenever they played against other teams. When they stopped playing (Jeff in 1999, Joe in 2007) I was rooting for the team, where my favourite goalie was. He is still Carey Price. Unfortunately the Canadiens are not doing so well lately, but I’m at a point in my life that I just enjoy watching hockey,” continued the young Beukeboom.

“I played almost every junior level in Canada and had been in so many places in the country. Tried University hockey as well, but last summer few friends of mine signed professional contracts and I said to myself: I’m better than them, so why not try to find a team in Europe? I got a job offer from Iceland, so hockey brought me to this side of the globe. There are not so many people that can say they have been in Iceland,” explained Adam, who played in the WHL with Regina Pats (2011-12) and Prince George Cougars (2013-14). His last team was at Brock University.

“Growing up I was so busy playing hockey that I was not able to travel abroad or to have a family trip in the summer. But now I can do that and will use this opportunity to discover Europe. It’s amazing. First time out of Canada, I got to Iceland and they told me that in two weeks I will be in Bulgaria for the start of the Continental Cup. I didn’t know anything about Bulgaria before. It seems that lately the pieces are falling in the right place for me and I hope to continue with my pro career and make some money, if not at least I’m traveling to a lot of new places and will be exposed to different cultures.”

Adam is not only the leading goalkeeper for Skautafelag Akureyrar, but he also is the goalie’s coach for all junior teams – that is a part of his first professional contract. The early start of his pro career was successful and he will try to even better his efforts in the second round of the 2018/19 IIHF Continental Cup, which will be held 19-21 October. The Icelandic champion is in Group C with the host Kurbads Riga, HC Donbass from Ukraine and Txuri Urdin San Sebastian from Spain. Group B will be played on the same days in Ritten, Italy.

For Adam Beukeboom and the “Vikings” from Akureyri, the challenge seems impossible to overcome, but the young goalie will continue his journey and will discover next the hockey-mad Latvian fans in a week.
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