Warms reflect on abrupt end to junior careers 

Twins training in Whistler, hope to keep playing next season

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANDY DEVLIN/EDMONTON OIL KINGS - ENDING AS A KING Beck Warm wrapped his WHL career as a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
  • photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings
  • ENDING AS A KING Beck Warm wrapped his WHL career as a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Things were lining up for Beck Warm to wrap his junior hockey career with a bang.

The 20-year-old Whistler goalie, who carried the load and faced a barrage of shots as the Tri-City Americans' starter, got a new lease on life after a January trade to the league-leading Edmonton Oil Kings, posting 11 wins in 15 starts with his new club.

But in mid-March, the Western Hockey League paused its season as a measure to contain the COVID-19 virus, and on March 23, the Canadian Hockey League announced that playoffs for the western league, and its Ontario and Quebec cousins, would not be played.

That meant Beck and twin brother Will, a Victoria Royals defenceman, saw their junior careers end in the most abrupt fashion.

"It is a pretty unusual way to end your junior career but Will and I both have had four really, really good years in the WHL and made a lot of good memories. It took a little bit of time to cope with what happened, but we're super happy with how our careers went," Beck said.

Sitting second overall in the WHL at the stoppage, however, was a tough pill to swallow for the netminder.

"We were really excited to go for a long run this year in the playoffs and we had the team to do it," he said. "It's definitely really disappointing there, but what had to happen happened, so we're all good with it."

Will, meanwhile, was in his first season in Victoria after being traded from Edmonton in the offseason. While not the juggernaut that his brother was backstopping in Edmonton, Victoria was solid in its own right, having clinched a playoff spot when the season stopped. While it was clear the right choice was made from a public health perspective, it was a disappointment to have his career end the way it did.

"That's what makes it harder. We did have a really good team and there was a really good feeling in the room going into playoffs," Will said. "It's tough to have it end that way, but it's bigger than hockey."

After spending three winters on the prairies, Will was admittedly fine wrapping his career on temperate Vancouver Island.

"I loved Victoria. It was a great place to play my last year of junior hockey closer to home. Family was able to visit a lot more," he said. "It was great for hockey, but also to get outside and go for hikes."

Will was also thrilled to be part of the Royals' organization, serving as the player ambassador for the team's Pink in the Rink night in February. The evening, which supports the BC Cancer Foundation, was especially touching for Warm as his mother, Wendi, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 but is now cancer-free.

"That was a really special night for myself, for my whole family and for a lot of people," he said. "It's an opportunity to play for something bigger than yourself, bigger than the team."

In Edmonton, Beck was thrilled to be in his brother's old stomping grounds, where he mentored star rookie Sebastian Cossa.

"It was unbelievable. It's such a first-class organization. I really appreciated what happened there, being able to go there," he said. "They treated me professionally from Day 1."

At the time when COVID-19 was becoming a growing concern, Beck said team members were undergoing daily temperature checks to ensure no one was ill. The players were soon sent home for what was expected to be a brief time before playoffs before it was understood that no more games would be played this season.

"There was a three-day span where we found out that we weren't going to play our game that weekend to when we were sent home," he said. "It all happened really quickly."

Both Warm brothers are home in Whistler, working out in the family basement by lifting weights and riding stationary bikes.

"It's nice to have someone who's like-minded, wants to do everything you're doing and work out and stay healthy," Beck said. "We really push each other."

Both hope to go pro next season, though things are currently quiet.

"It's more of a waiting game right now. I'm waiting to see if any pro opportunities come up and hopefully that's the case," Will said, adding that he'd register for university using his WHL scholarship if no pro opportunities panned out.

Pique could not reach the third Whistler WHLer, Jackson Leppard of the Winnipeg Ice, before deadline. Leppard, who was dealt from Prince George in an early season trade, was named the team's defensive player of the year for its first season in the Manitoba capital.

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