Published June 24, 2024

A Little will has guided Colts’ Beaudoin to this weekend’s NHL draft

A Little will has guided Colts’ Beaudoin to this weekend’s NHL draft
Cole Beaudoin - OHL Images

From a fiery tenacity on the ice and unrelenting resolve to helping his team win, to a consuming commitment to being in the best possible physical condition, Cole Beaudoin is determined to be the best player he can be.

Marty Williamson has only seen that kind of work ethic, that kind of will to succeed once before in his 20-plus-year coaching career.

“Bryan Little was a bit different, but Little had an unbelievable will on the ice and that’s (Beaudoin),” the Barrie Colts general manager and head coach said of his second-year centre who is expected to hear his name called in the late first round or early second of this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft. “Bryan wasn’t the same in the gym and all that stuff, but that’s as close as I can come as a player that just wills himself to do everything.

“I thought Bryan had that quality and was a coach’s dream, and now I got (Beaudoin) with very similar qualities. He’s a coach’s dream, too.”

Beaudoin showed off that will on the ice with a breakout 2023-24 OHL season of nearly a point a game (28-34-62) on a rebuilding Colts team and then by earning his second gold medal representing Canada on the world stage at the U18 world championships in early May.

The Kanata native then got to show NHL teams what kind of work he’s done off the ice at the 2024 NHL Combine in Buffalo this month.

The Colts 10th overall pick in 2022 placed first in the aerobic fitness test duration and bench press (50 percent body weight), third in pull-ups, sixth in Aerobic fitness VO2 Max (ML/KG/MIN), which measures how much oxygen your body uses when exercising, and seventh (left hand) and tied for ninth (right hand) in musculoskeletal hand grip (pounds).

 For Beaudoin, it’s a matter of not leaving any stone unturned when making his dream come true.

 “I feel it’s just more my inner drive of wanting to make it to the NHL,” said the 18-year-old. “I want to have a long career in the NHL. That’s kind of my final goal, is lifting that Stanley Cup. It’s just my inner drive and wanting to succeed.

“I think from a young age that’s just been who I am. Working on my cardio or working on my strength and getting more powerful. Working on my skating. Going into the combine, I was definitely thinking I want to do well, and I’m happy with the results.”

Results he hopes pays off when the NHL draft begins with the first round Friday night at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

“It’s going to be unbelievable,” Beaudoin said of the draft. “Obviously, you’ve looked to this day since you were a little kid. You watch the draft every single year. I am super excited and whatever team drafts me; it’s going to be an honour.”

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Whatever teams does step forward and draft him, Williamson believes will be happy with their selection.

“I think he’s done awfully well in the interviews and the feedback that I am getting is that he could be one of the safest picks in the draft,” he said of Beaudoin. “You just know what you’re getting. He isn’t going to change that work ethic. This kid just loves to grind, and he loves to play the game. He wants to keep getting better.

“It’s all extremely positive when I talk to NHL teams about his interviews and his expectations of being a pro.”

For Beaudoin, there is no off-season. Whether he’s working out with his trainer in Ottawa, skating, shooting pucks and stickhandling on his driveway or going for a run or spin on his bike, it’s definitely “go, go, go” during the summer.

He says it’s certainly made a difference with his game.

“My work in the summer has definitely helped me on the ice so I can keep my motor going when I’m playing games,” said the six-foot-two, 206-pound forward. “At the end of the game, to still be able to keep pushing, keep battling in those corners or forechecking hard. That’s when my game is at its best, when I’m using that motor and playing that all-around game.”

Beat to a puck or pushed off a puck? It’s simply not acceptable for Beaudoin.

“There’s kind of no excuses for me,” he said. “I’m going to give it everything I have to win that puck battle. I’m not going to make up excuses, if he was just a step-in front of me or all those things. I’m going to push harder so I can get in front of him for that puck battle and all those kinds of things.

“I’m just going to keep working, keep doing those things. No excuses, just do what I can do and do what I can control.”

Another similarity with Little is when it comes to losing hockey games. Like the former Winnipeg Jets forward, he doesn’t take it well.

“I’m a competitive person. If it’s at school, or board games, or hockey or at the gym, I’m a super competitive person and I hate to lose,” said Beaudoin. “That’s trying to push everyone else, so we can win. Trying to be a leader in that room, so we can learn that we can come back stronger, so we don’t lose games.

“We had a young team this year and we gave everyone a good fight, so I’m happy with the group that we had and moving into next year just learn from that. Focus on each game and doing whatever we can to win every game.”

Already a leader in Barrie, Beaudoin’s leadership comes more from the example he sets on and off the ice with his work ethic.

“Bryan was the same way,” said Williamson. “Not a real vocal guy, but his will to want to win and want to play the right way is infectious. Those are great leaders. (Cole’s) got great leadership qualities because that’s the guy you want on your team.

“Every player in that room knows that’s the guy you want to go into battle with and he’s not going to let you down.”

For Beaudoin, part of all the work he’s done included watching and learning from former Barrie veterans on the ice and in the dressing room as a rookie. He peppered Brandt Clarke, Ethan Cardwell and Evan Vierling with questions, listening carefully what they had to say.

He used all that to build on his rookie season of eight goals and 20 points. He went from a young player learning his way to a team leader relied on at the biggest moments.

“I went into my second year with confidence in myself to produce and help my team out so we can win games,” said Beaudoin. “I’m definitely trying to be more confident with the puck, and I thought I did a really good job with that.

“Carrying it up the ice and making plays and just being able to play my game with confidence so we can come out with the result we wanted.”

Near Christmas, Williamson placed Beaudoin on a line between fellow NHL prospect Riley Patterson and veteran Tai York.

On most nights, they were Barrie’s top line.

“When I put the two of them together, they just communicated really well with each other,” said Williamson of the line that combined for 74 goals and 173 points. “I know they spent a lot of time, Riley too, going to the gym, but they really did it together. Then they had that kind of low maintenance winger on the side there with York that always made good plays.

That line did really well for us. They were probably the most consistent all year for us.”

Beaudoin went out and got a custom suit for his big draft day. Nothing means more to him that his family will be right there beside him. Father, Eric, mom, Jackie and brothers Cayden and Ryker will all be making the trek to Las Vegas.

“The sacrifices my parents have made and my brothers with how much they’ve helped me, it’s going to be a special day to spend with them,” said Beaudoin.

He’ll make sure to take the experience all in this weekend, but when asked after this weekend if it’s back to work, the Colts forward laughed out loud.

“Enjoy the moment, enjoy the special day, but then get right back to work,” said Beaudoin, who will have a quick turnaround with the prospect skate NHL teams holding following the draft.
“They day you’re drafted, that’s where the work starts.”

The NHL draft gets underway at 7 p.m. on Friday with the first round, followed by the remaining six rounds on Saturday beginning at 11:30 a.m.

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