In March, senior Beau Kretzman added another distinction to his already impressive record: He was named Second-Team All-America by the American Hockey Coaches Association.
Men’s hockey co-captain Beau Kretzmangrew up in Edina, Minn., firing thousands of shots at a homemade goal built by his father, imagining each as the deciding factor in the big game and trying to make every shot perfect.
Kretzman, a senior, has displayed this focus in each of the hundreds of goals he’s poured in over his career, and he’s rewriting the men’s hockey record book at Amherst, shattering freshman marks with 25 goals, 19 assists and 44 points in his rookie year en route to 137 career points through 18 games in his senior season. This year he eclipsed current head coach John (Jack) Arena ’83 as the college’s fifth all-time leading scorer.
“Whenever he shoots, regardless of whether it’s in practice, an open net or in a game, he’s trying to score,” says Arena. “In my 22 years, I’ve never had a player who absolutely has to score every time he shoots the puck like Beau does.”
After lacing his skates for the first time and pushing a chair around the ice at the local park at the age of 6, Kretzman was ready for hockey. He played year-round growing up, skating in the Edina youth hockey system during the winter and playing for as many as four teams at once throughout the summer. At Edina High School, he played in front of 2,000 to 2,500 spectators a night with the same goal as every other school in Minnesota: reaching the state tournament. Kretzman’s biggest high school victory came in his junior season, when Edina knocked off the top-ranked team in the state in the section finals. He tallied a goal and an assist in the win as a teammate found the back of the net with two seconds left in the fourth overtime, and the team went on to finish third in the state.
Every father in Minnesota dreams that his son will grow up and play for the University of Minnesota, but Kretzman had other plans. “I wasn’t interested in playing for the Gophers,” he says. “I visited a few schools in New England, and I knew that even if I decided to play junior hockey, I wanted to play at a school with a strong academic tradition.”
Attracting attention from high-profile programs like Yale and Colgate, Kretzman had the option of spending a year with the United States Hockey League’s Chicago Steel and then going on to play Division I hockey. But he opted for Amherst, where he would play right away and make an immediate impact. Kretzman stormed onto the scene, taking home Second-Team All-NESCAC, NESCAC Rookie of the Year and ECAC East/NESCAC All-Star honors in his first season.
With the impressive statistics came increased attention from opposing teams, and the added pressure made it difficult for Kretzman to produce as he had as a first-year. “I try to capitalize on every opportunity,” Kretzman says, “especially now that I only get one or two chances a game.”
The bull’s-eye on his chest hasn’t hindered his ability to make big plays. In his sophomore season, with the score tied 2-2 late in the third period against archrival Williams, he found himself with the puck behind his own net when he noticed a Williams defenseman with his back turned, grazing in the crease. Kretzman decided to attempt a feat he’d envisioned for a long time but never had the courage to try. He fired the puck at the defender’s leg and banked it into the goal, giving the Jeffs a 3-2 victory.
Arena asked Kretzman minutes later, “Did you do that on purpose?” Kretzman nodded, and Arena walked away realizing he wouldn’t have given any other player the benefit of the doubt. “That’s the kind of player Beau is,” Arena says. “He’s always thinking one, two, three steps ahead of everyone else.”
Kretzman went on to claim First-Team All-NESCAC honors as a sophomore—finishing among the national leaders in goals and points—and Second-Team All-NESCAC plaudits as a junior. Despite the individual awards, he still focuses squarely on the team. “It’s nice to have the individual stuff, but you want to win, so it’s been great that we’ve improved every year.”
Now in his senior season, Kretzman hopes for more winning en route to the ultimate team goal of a conference title. “I think we can be one of the best teams in the conference and hopefully win the NESCAC Championship,” he says. At press time, the Jeffs were 10-6-2 overall, just one point shy of first place in the conference standings. Predictably, Kretzman has been a major factor in the team’s recent success, notching 12 goals and 21 assists through 18 games. He currently leads the NESCAC in assists and scoring and ranks fifth in the nation in both categories.
Off the ice, Kretzman is seldom without his teammates. “We’re a tight group,” he says. “We live and do everything together, from watching sports to eating. It’s pretty much a family affair.”
Their main leisure-time passion is Wiffle ball. They’ve fashioned their own stadium in front of Cohan dorm, where they play regularly using official dimensions and rules listed on www.wiffle.com.
Last summer, Kretzman interned with Amherst hockey alums Thomas Carideo ’98 and Jon Callahan ’95 at W.H. Trading in Chicago. Working actively in the trading process, he communicated directly with traders in the pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and relayed information back to the office where transactions are made. “Ideally, I’d like to play in Europe for a few years, but eventually, I can see myself back in Chicago, trading,” he says. “I like the intense and competitive atmosphere.”
No matter what Kretzman sets his sights on next, be it the back of an opposing defenseman’s leg, a homemade net in his father’s garage or a trading pit in Chicago, his determination and focus should guide him in pursuit of the goal.
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Photo: Vaughn Winchell