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Beskorowany leaves for Austria - with his sights set on Germany

Tyler Beskorowany began his European adventure in Germany in the fall of 2014.

At some point, he would dearly love to get back there.

It was partially with this end goal in sight that the 6'5" goaltender and Valley East native recently signed on with EC Panaceo VSV in Austria, hopeful of boarding a plane, with his young family, in the next few weeks.

"Obviously, you want to play at the highest level possible," noted the 30 year old puck-stopper, who along with his partner (Sarah) welcomed the birth of the couple's first child (Austen) roughly two and a half months ago.

That factor, along with the uncertain times, weighed heavily into the destination of choice in 2020-2021 for Beskorowany, who has enjoyed stops in Duesseldorf and Nuermberg (both in Germany - 2014-2016), Edinburgh (Scotland in 2017-2018), Belfast (Northern Ireland in 2018-2019) and Banska Bystrica (Slovakia in 2019-2020) after spending the first four years of his professional career in North America (AHL/ECHL).

"I had a few options to sign elsewhere, but one of the main things that really made me want to sign in Austria is the fact that the government will pay me most of my salary, even if there is another outbreak," said Beskorowany, who joined Bruce/Chris McDougall and the crew from Netminders North on the ice recently in Sudbury.

"That was honestly one of the biggest deciding factors. That, and the fact that it's a high caliber league and a good stepping stone to get back to the DEL (top league in Germany), which is where I want to be."

It's been quite a ride for the young man who was initially a 14th round draft pick of the Owen Sound Attack in the spring of 2006. Opting to return for a second year in the Great North Midget League with the Valley East Cobras, Beskorowany would shine, building up some much needed additional confidence as a very late draftee looking to beat the odds.

But he did that and then some, parlaying an outstanding rookie season in Owen Sound in 2007-2008 (35 GPs - 4.04 GAA - .900 save % - on a team which posted a record of 20-41-0-7) into his selection in June of 2008, by the Dallas Stars, a second round pick, 59th overall.

"Just being drafted (into the NHL) was a huge feat," recalled Beskorowany. "Really coming out of nowhere to get drafted, that was one of my prouder moments. And then playing at the Bell Centre in Montreal, for an exhibition game, and not letting in any goals during my half game."

Yet the fortunes of young hockey prospects are difficult to forecast, even more for those who tackle the challenge of donning the pads between the pipes. Suiting up in the minors with teams representing Idaho, Texas, San Francisco and St John's, over the years, the local who was inducted into the Valley East Sports Hall of Fame (2018) began to look overseas.

"When I first signed in the DEL (2014-2015), I really wasn't sure what the league was like - I didn't even know what Europe was like," said Beskorowany. "There were so many question marks signing there. I didn't know if I could keep up with the caliber of the hockey. There were a lot of ex-NHL players that sign in that league, a lot of imports, which helps make the league a little better."

Dany Heatley (869 NHL games) was a teammate in Nuermberg. So too was Kurtis Foster (405 games). "I had two really amazing experiences in Germany," said Beskorowany. "I enjoyed the people, I enjoyed the atmosphere, I enjoyed the game, the fans - everything about it, really."

"It attracts me to want to go back."

Where destinations of choice for professional hockey players in North America who have not ascended to the NHL likely are linked far more to which organization might own a player's rights, or which minor league team might be looking to fill a void, the balance between the caliber of hockey and the general environment of the city and country often come far more into play for European options.

"When you're in Europe, you follow the other leagues, you hear about what players are going through in other leagues and stuff," said Beskorowany. "With Austria being so close to Germany, you hear even more."

"And while you have some trust in what the GM (general manager) of any given team is telling you, you maybe still need to read between the lines a little - and then rely on word of mouth from other players."

"My decision-making now has changed quite drastically with my family," he continued. "I have to look out for what is best for all of us, not just myself. I had to turn down better money with one team because they could not guarantee insurance for my family."

"You don't want to be the only import on a team, or maybe the only one from North America. It's important that there are other wives and children around, it's important that my partner feels happy and comfortable where she is."

While Beskorowany is clearly looking forward to at least a few more years as a productive netminder, his well-travelled roadmap has offered some very memorable stops along the way. "Belfast was probably one of my favourite spots," he said. "Winning a championship obviously helps, but it was just the group of guys that we had."

"It was an amazing time with that group. We were just one big family, we never had any drama, we were such a tight-knit group."

"Same thing in St John's, the year we lost in the (Calder Cup) final," Beskorowany noted. "Everybody was clicking, everybody was on the same page, everybody bought in. We just had fun with it. It was fun to be around the guys at the rink every day."

That rink, for the upcoming year, will be Villacher Stadthalle, just a few hours away from the German border - the end goal, if you will, for Tyler Beskorowany.

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