Anthony Beauregard reflects back on a hockey journey that’s taken him across the globe
At three years old, Anthony Beauregard put on a pair of skates for the first time.
Throughout childhood, he was obsessed with hockey. He still remembers his mother buying him little cars, and him playing hockey with them instead. He spent his childhood around arenas, either playing, or watching his father’s games.
Fast-forward 23 years to June of 2021, where Anthony Beauregard was the top scorer for the Wichita Thunder, and was named the East Coast Hockey League’s (ECHL) Most Valuable Player for 2020-2021. He was second in the league in scoring with 22 goals and 71 points in 62 games playing in Wichita, Kansas.
Beauregard said that although he had an incredible season playing centre at Concordia in 2017-18 – in which he amassed 19 goals and 60 points in 28 games – to accomplish something as big at a professional level in Wichita was even more significant.
Bruce Ramsay, the Thunder’s head coach, said that Beauregard was a key factor in the team’s success in making it to the 2020-21 playoffs.
“He was a great motivator, he played with his heart on his sleeve, he wanted to win as much as anybody, and he was actually a physical player for his size. He played a hard physical game,” Ramsay said, referring to his 5-foot-7, 165-pound star. “He brought a lot of great attributes to our organization and was a huge reason for our success last year.”
Beauregard expressed that he wasn’t thinking about any awards during the season, but being named ECHL MVP was like a pat on the back.
“It was big for me because there aren’t a lot of Quebecers who accomplish this,” he said.
Another big achievement that Beauregard will always remember was playing for the Montreal Canadiens’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Laval Rocket, in 2017-18, after the Stingers’ season had ended.
“It was really fun. The experience of playing in the AHL, especially near home, it’s an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. In my first game, there were about 60 or 70 people who went to see me there. I’ll never forget it.”
However, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows for the Quebecer.
The following year, Beauregard signed a contract with the Brampton Beast, which was the Ottawa Senators’ ECHL affiliate, with the hopes of being called up to the AHL. After having an excellent season with Concordia, winning the Most Outstanding Player award in U Sports, and playing in the AHL, he was expecting a big role in Brampton, but that didn’t happen.
“I didn’t play a lot in Brampton, the coach didn’t really trust me. It was hard, it was a difficult year for me, personally,” Beauregard said. “It was a disappointing year, but the fact that I went to Dundee after, had a good season and loved it there, it made me want to play hockey again and be an important part of a team.”
He spent the 2019-20 season in Scotland with the Dundee Stars of the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL). Beauregard had re-signed another year with the team, but with the risk of the season getting cancelled because of COVID-19 and being stuck in Europe, Beauregard decided to go play in Wichita, which was only a two-and-a-half-hour flight away from his parents’ and childhood home in Saint-Damase, Quebec.
“It was a decision based on COVID, but if you look at what happened, it was a good thing,” he said.
Beauregard is now a winger for Sierre-Anniviers in the Swiss League. He is one of the team’s two imports (who both happen to be Quebecers), with the other one being Eric Castonguay.
“There’s a bit more pressure on us because the fans expect us to deliver and help win games,” he explained. “So, we have some pressure, but it’s a fun kind of pressure to handle because you know the fans are behind you, so for the moment I’m loving it, I’m very happy here.”
Beauregard said he feels good about his season so far. He’s racked up six goals and 25 points in 32 games played.
Although this isn’t the first time he’s played in Europe, it’s the first time he’s played in such an offensive-oriented environment.
“The style of play in the U.K. is really close to the style in North America. There were a lot of hits, there were fights, it was a physical game, so I wasn’t disoriented with respect to that,” Beauregard recounted. “Here [in Switzerland] it’s a less physical game, there can’t be fights, and it’s a more offensive game, so my style of play is adapted to the style here.”
Ramsay expected Beauregard to adjust well to the offensive style of play in Switzerland.
“He’s an elite player,” Ramsay said. “I think no matter what country or what situation he’s put in, if he’s put on a sheet of ice, he’s going to play his heart out and have success.”
Beauregard has always wanted to play hockey in Switzerland.
“It’s an amazing country, and I know a lot of people who played in Switzerland and who’ve told me positive things,” he said. “The lifestyle is different than in North America. You play fewer games, so your body has time to recover, and on the monetary side, it’s better in Europe than in the East Coast (ECHL). I loved the time I spent in Dundee, so from there, I told myself ‘let’s give it a go in Europe.’”
He is currently on a one-year contract, but said he would like to stay in Switzerland for another year or two, if given the opportunity.
His goal remains to play at the highest level possible, so he hasn’t forgotten about the possibility of playing in the AHL or National Hockey League (NHL). However, he said he has to be realistic. At 26 years old, Beauregard realizes he’s a bit old to switch over to the NHL. So, his main focus is to take things one year at a time, to finish this season and see what happens from there.
As he reflected on his journey, Beauregard emphasized that one of the most important things is to never give up.
“I’m not a big player, so during my childhood, I kept hearing that I was too small, that I couldn’t play with men,” he said. “I always wanted to prove people who didn’t believe in me wrong.”
He added that he always tries to change negative comments into positivity.
“So for young players who are told the same thing, take those negative comments and use them as motivation,” he said.
“Never give up, no matter the situation. You’re never going to have an easy road, except if you’re an exceptional player. You’ll always have a year where you get cut, and you ask yourself if you should continue or stop.”
However, the lesson that we can take from Beauregard’s career is that when it comes to our biggest dreams, stopping is never the solution.
Photograph by Brianna Thicke