Former Tri-City Americans captain Beau McCue is heading to college — one that will take him more than 3,500 miles from home.
McCue, a Montana native who now calls Kennewick home, will attend the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, in eastern Canada. He will play hockey there and plans to study engineering.
“You can’t get much further east than that,” said McCue, who will live in a time zone four hours ahead of Kennewick. “For me to go all the way across the continent will be different, but it will be good.”
McCue said UPEI recruited him, and with a strong recommendation from another former Tri-City captain, Mason Wilgosh, the Panthers’ coaches made sure to keep McCue on their radar last season.
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“They looked at my stats, kept an eye on me and talked to some people about me,” McCue said. “They wanted to see what I was like in person, and they flew me out there. I felt comfortable there.”
The UPEI coaches liked what they saw in McCue, who finished his career with the Americans with 85 goals and 85 assists in 270 games. He played all 72 games each of the past three seasons.
“We knew what a captain meant coming from that program,” Panthers coach Forbes MacPherson told The Guardian newspaper in Charlottetown. “His character is second to none. He’s just a salt-of-the-earth-type of kid.”
Wilgosh was in his final year with the Americans when McCue was 15. They never played together in Tri-City, but McCue was comfortable reaching out to Wilgosh, who was the captain at UPEI the past three years.
“I talked to Mason to get a better feel for it,” McCue said. “When you talk to coaches, they tell you their side of it. I wanted to get a player’s view of the program and the college. I wanted to know what it was like to go to school there and play hockey. That’s why I reached out to Mason. He was there to give me the lowdown as to what his daily routine was like. It was good.”
McCue, who played all four years of his Western Hockey League career with the Americans, will use his Canadian Hockey League scholarship to help pay for school.
Players who have played in the WHL are not eligible to play college hockey in the United States, thus leaving McCue to take his game north of the border.
“The CHL scholarship is good to have for the guys who don’t get the pro offers,” McCue said. “It’s nice I won’t have the pressure of student loans.”
McCue is in the process of filling out the application for the engineering program, but he has a backup plan to study business if that falls through.
“Engineering is a rigorous schedule with hockey,” McCue said. “I have taken one college course each year I’ve been out of high school. It will be different class-wise and time management with homework.”
McCue’s hockey load will be considerably smaller at UPEI. The Panthers’ schedule has 30 games, whereas WHL teams play 72 games a season.
“It will be a different experience playing 30 games and having more practices,” McCue said. “I think it will be beneficial and will help me develop some skills that I need to work on to hopefully get that pro contract that has eluded me so far.”
McCue leaves Aug. 30 for school, but until then, he’s working 70 hours a week between Sparkling Clean Windows and Toyota Arena.
“I’ll be living off campus, so I need to have some spending money,” McCue said.
And, he will fly to Charlottetown.
“I’m not making that trip,” he said of the 3,542-mile trek that would require 55 hours of driving. “I don’t know if my car can make that trip.”