By John Boyanoski
The Greenville News
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Goaltenders, by their nature, are a little bit different from the average hockey player.
Hall of Famer Jacques Plante used to knit caps between games. NHLer Gilles Gratton thought he was a reincarnated jungle cat. And the Greenville Grrrowl’s backup goaltender in a pair of weekend games was a lieutenant with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office criminal investigation division.
While most goalies spend their days thinking about shutouts and blocking pads, James Beaver spends his thinking about ballistics and latent fingerprints.
The 37-year-old father of three was a late addition to the Grrrowl roster Jan. 1 when one of the regular goalies, Mike Morrison, was called up to the Edmonton Road Runners, said Byron Rucker, the Grrrowl’s general manager.
Beaver was back on the bench Friday and Saturday nights.
In a six-month span in which 39-year-old walk-on and former Army Airborne ranger Tim Frisby joined the University of South Carolina football team and NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal talked of plans to run for sheriff in Florida, Beaver is living every weekend warrior’s Walter Mitty-type dream.
“It’s exciting, but somewhat unreal,” Beaver said.
The team called the local ice rink the Pavilion Jan. 1 to see if there were any goalies available to play that night at the Bi-Lo Center, Rucker said. Minor league hockey rules require a team to dress two goalies each game.
Someone recommended Beaver, who grew up playing hockey in Miami and then off and on for the 15 years he has been in Greenville.