While pursuing his Bachelor of Criminology at the University of Ottawa (U of O), Marc Beckstead has been playing as a forward on the U of O Gee-Gees men’s hockey team since the program got reinstated back into the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) league, back in the 2016-17 season.
Beckstead grew up in Morrisburg, Ontario, just an hour drive from the downtown core of Ottawa, and, along with his younger brother, Cole, learned to skate due to his family also skating.
“I got started playing hockey basically through influence by my family. Once I was a young kid, my dad just strapped skates on when I was young, and I started wheeling around, and ended up liking it and sticking with it,” Beckstead said.
Even though his brother is younger than him, Beckstead has said that he takes off of Cole’s work ethic to help him in his style of hockey.
“So, I think Cole watched me play hockey. Always at the rinks when we were younger, running around, just being a kid, and he kind of picked up the game, and now he’s playing with the Carleton Place Canadians in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL),” Beckstead said.
“And he’s doing excellent right now. I’ve learned off him, because he always had to look up to an older brother who was always stronger, bigger, than him, and now I actually take off his work ethic, because the guy works impeccably well,” he added.
Prior to joining the Gee-Gees, Marc has played for the Upper Canada Cyclones Minor Midget AAA team of the Ontario East Minor Midget Hockey League (OEMMHL), the Upper Canada Cyclones Midget AAA team of the Ontario East Minor Hockey League (OEMHL), the Cumberland Grads of the CCHL, the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the Gatineau Olympiques and the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), and the Brampton Beast of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).
At the tender age of 16, Beckstead left home in order to play for the Cumberland Grads.
While with the Grads, Beckstead played in 57 games, while recording 12 goals and 27 assists for 39 points.
“Everything was memorable. My coach, Paul Flindall, was an excellent coach, really broke me into how junior hockey was going to be,” Beckstead said.
“And the veterans that I played for, when I was 16, I looked up to a bunch of guys and they really modeled me, and modeled my game and my attitude towards what it has to take to get to the next level,” he added.
Following his year in Cumberland, Beckstead went and played for Kingston in the OHL. While there, he played in 55 games, while recording six goals and eight assists for 14 points.
“Everything is memorable. I mean, its surreal playing in the OHL like that, getting the opportunity to play for Doug Gilmore, it was unbelievable. Just experiencing it all, its really surreal coming from Junior A, then going to the OHL where everything was excellent,” Beckstead said.
Beckstead then joined the Gatineau Olympiques at the start of the 2013-14 season, and played there for two seasons. While on the Olympiques, he played in 111 games, while recording 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points. He also got the chance to be coached by Benoit Groulx.
“They were also great seasons. I played for a coach who actually really ran my game out well, Groulx, he’s an excellent coach, and he really taught me what it’s like to play a pro style game, and I still have to work on it, but obviously, like, what he said resonates in my mind and it’s going to help me out in the long run,” Beckstead said.
Following his tenure with Gatineau, Beckstead made his way over to Victoriaville when he was traded to the Tigres in the off season. While on the Tigres, Beckstead played in 65 games, while recording 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points.
“That season, that was also a good season. I got traded from Gatineau over the summer, and I was nervous about going into a new city, a real French town, and I’m not completely French, but my experience there was also unbelievable. I was coached by a good coach who knows a lot, and who has played a lot of games as a pro,” Beckstead said.
Following his 2015-16 season, Beckstead made his way over to the University of Ottawa, and began a university career with them in their first season back from getting their program reinstated due to a sexual assault incident.
“I knew that, given the whole situation, it was plagued, looking back. And coming back, I know that Patrick Grandmaitre expressed to me that they wanted to start bringing this program back in a positive direction, and I felt like I was up for the challenge to be a part of that,” Beckstead said.
“And I’m happy I did because I believe that we have brought back what hockey’s been missing in Ottawa University,” he added.
While at U of O, Beckstead has been studying Criminology, and, he factors in the part that since Ottawa is close to home, as to what drew him to the Gee-Gees.
While a part of the Gee-Gees so far, Beckstead has played in 80 games, while recording 17 goals and 26 assists for 43 points.
Beckstead has also said that he has enjoyed helping build the program to what it was before the incident, and is excited to get on the ice with the team next year.
“Oh, it’s been awesome. We’ve had a great coach in Pat, we’ve had a great team, all the boys are buying in for the same thing, we’re all on the same page, and every game, something special is happening,” Beckstead said.
“I know this year ended pretty abruptly and I wasn’t expecting it, which upsets me, but I’m excited to get on the ice next year, because every year we seem to keep getting better and better, and eventually, all that hard work will pay off,” he added.
So far, while a part of the Gee-Gees, Beckstead has said that his most memorable moment is last year’s round one victory in the playoffs against his team’s cross-town city rival.
“Most memorable moment would have to be beating Carleton, first round last year in the playoffs. As you know, there’s a big rivalry there, and it was an intense heated battle, and we took them to game 3, and that was my most memorable moment as a Gee-Gee,” Beckstead said.
While many hockey players experience setbacks and challenges and adversities due to injuries, Beckstead has said that his biggest adversity is the balance of a student-athlete life.
“Being a student athlete, you have a lot of time committed to the rink, and your studies, and your training, and its just sometimes hard to find a balance between them, but nonetheless, if you just manage your time well, you’re fine,” Beckstead said.
While he has faced many adversities, Beckstead has also grown as a player and as a person due to those adversities.
“On the ice, I feel like playing this style of game where its a lot of speed and skill, as the game has transformed, as opposed to five years ago. You really have to be in shape and agile out there, and the game is more tailored to specific skills and smarts, as opposed to brutes anymore, so, that changes the game style from a hitting aspect to more of a systematic view,” Beckstead said.
“As a person, my personalities just flourished as I’ve been with the team all the time. Being with a bunch of guys who, like I said, you love so much, you’re always having fun, joking around, so it really lightens you up, and allows you to not take things as seriously, but when you need to, you dial in,” he added.
In regards to his future, Beckstead hopes to one day continue his hockey career in North America, or over in Europe, but, if that doesn’t pan out, is making sure he has a fall out plan in criminology.
If you’re a junior hockey player interested in going down the student-athlete road, Beckstead’s advice would be to take everyday in an optimistic view.
“My advice would be, come in, if you don’t get the playing time that you feel like you deserve, have a positive attitude, don’t be pessimistic towards the team, come in with a good attitude and you’ll get your shot, and work hard.”