Rainy River teen drafted by Rangers

While the hockey world was fixated on Sidney Crosby’s fate in the National
Hockey League draft on Saturday, the Albert Beller family of Rainy River
was watching another player of great interest.
Their 18-year-son, Greg Beller, was chosen by the N.Y. Rangers in the sixth round (178th overall).
The recent graduate from Sturgeon Creek Alternative Program in Stratton
finished his high school career at Lake of the Woods High School in Baudette with 22 goals and 27 assists.
This 6’3”, 201-pound centre, who also suited up for the Borderland Thunder for a few games last season, was very excited when he heard the news Saturday.
Ironically, he had just stepped off the ice in Baudette, where he was trying to squeeze in one last skate before the ice plant was shut down at the end of summer hockey school.
“I just got done skating when my Mom and Dad told me about the phone call. It was great news!” he enthused.
Beller said he first had contact with the Rangers’ organization back in
January when their Minnesota scout saw him at the Great Eight
tournament in Minneapolis.
Later that month, unknown to Beller, the Minnesota scout accompanied the
Rangers’ head scout to watch a the LoW Bears play Warroad.
“I thought they were there to watch T.J. Oshie [of Warroad] and had no idea they were to watch me as well,” said Beller.
Afterwards, he found out there were no less than five scouts at that game.
Even though he was drafted by the Rangers, Beller said his plans remain the same as before. “I am going to play for the Green Bay Gamblers this winter,” he noted.
The Gamblers are a Junior ‘A,’ Division 1 team, just below the OHL and WHL.
“They are the second-best junior league,” said Beller, adding his main reason
for sticking to the plan to play there is based on his educational future.
By playing in that league, he will not get paid and thus will be
eligible for a hockey scholarship. Beller also feels he will gain valuable
playing experience with the Gamblers and eventually at college, which he
hopes to attend next year.
Beller said one of the pivotal factors in getting this far in his
hockey career occurred when he was a junior at LoW.
“I always wanted to be better than Brent Olson [a senior with the Bears] so I practised and practised,” he recalled.
Then last summer, Beller played in the Minnesota Summer Elite League and realized that “this was my last chance to make it further in hockey.”
As such, he began training three hours a day, six days a week. “It was hard and I sometimes did not like it, but it has paid off now,” he remarked.
He has been skating since he could walk and his dad helped make hockey a big part of his and his brothers’ lives. “Dad building an outdoor rink in the
yard really helped me,” Beller said.
Beller is off to the Rangers’ rookie camp just north of New York City next
week. But even if the Rangers offer him a lot of money, he said he plans to
pass on any offers and stick with the Gamblers this coming season.
Beller isn’t certain he will be a starter with the Gamblers because he
was unable to make a training camp last month due to the fact he had knee
surgery in June.
However, his rehab went well and he said it felt good skating last week.
Beller is hopeful his college career will lead to the NHL and he is
excited that the Rangers have helped make that goal attainable.
He did note he is cautiously optimistic since “many first round picks do not make the NHL.”