This weekend, Elmira sports history is likely to be made.
Junior team USA hockey player, Johnny Beecher, will be watching with anticipation as a guest in Vancouver at the 2019 NHL Draft. Beecher, an Elmira native, has been battling to achieve this dream his entire life. A projected second-round selection, Beecher will become the third Elmira-born NHL player ever selected in the draft.
According to Quanthockey.com, Stan Drulia played in 126 NHL games for Tampa Bay and was drafted in the 11th round by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1986 at forward. And, the only other Elmira-born NHL player was Les Kuntar, who played in just six games with the Montreal Canadians in 1993-94. Kuntar was drafted by the Canadians in the 6th round in the 1987 NHL Draft at goalie where he was a backup behind Hockey Hall of Famer, Patrick Roy.
Beecher has signed to play at the University of Michigan for the Wolverines next year and tells 18 Sports that getting valuable experience in college is paramount. If drafted, Beecher will elect to attend Michigan but his professional rights will be owned by the NHL team who drafts him for four years. But, Beecher can elect to go pro even after one season of play at Michigan.
A standout forward, Beecher helped lead Team USA to a bronze medal in April in the 18-under World Championships in Sweden.
Beecher earned the United States Player of The Game after scoring two goals in a 7-1 win over Sweden at the world championships.
From there, Beecher met with a majority of NHL team representatives at the NHL Scouting Combine last month. Beecher is confident that his name will be called this weekend. But, he and his family are simply enjoying the moment and soaking up the entire experience.
18 Sports spoke with Beecher on the eve of the NHL Draft, hear his words on the next big steps and making Elmira history.
The 2019 NHL Draft airs starting Friday at 8 PM on NBCSN with the first round. Then on Saturday, rounds two through seven begin at 1 PM on the NHL Network.
18 Sports will keep you updated on Beecher’s draft status throughout the weekend.