CJ Walt named Avalanche youth skater
What do Paul Stastny, Craig Anderson and CJ Walt all have in common?
Barring trades or injuries, all three will be on the ice at the onset of the Feb. 12 Colorado Avalanche hockey game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Walt, a Moffat County High School junior and Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey defenseman, recently was selected as the youth skater to represent the Craig Youth Hockey Association during the game at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Walt said he learned of the honor before Wednesday night’s practice.
“It was a surprise,” he said. “At first, I was thinking in my head of who was going to get it, because I didn’t think I would. But then our coaches said my name. I was surprised and not ready for it.”
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Despite being chosen as the Bulldogs’ captain in December 2009, Walt said he couldn’t see himself getting picked to be the youth skater.
“You never expect to see yourself doing something like this,” he said. “You do see kids on the news who get to do things like this, but you don’t think that you are ever going to get to do it.”
Walt will be a part of the team for the night.
“I get to hang out with them in their locker room before the game, and they will assign me one player I get to hang out with an hour or two before the game,” he said. “I also get a jersey and get to go out onto the ice during warm-ups and watch the rest of the game up against he glass.”
The entire Walt family will be up against the glass during the game, seats Walt called the best he’s ever had.
“Before, we were right above where the Zamboni came out,” he said. “That was the best spot up until now.”
The night is a promotion for the Craig Youth Hockey Association.
Team members had been selling $35 tickets for the game, with $15 going back to the association.
Moffat County Bulldogs coach Walker Criswell said the coaches nominated three players, and the nominations were sent to the Moffat County Commission.
“The nominations were sent to the county commissioners without names,” Criswell said. “It was based strictly on the letters of recommendation. They picked based on the information they had, and they picked CJ Walt.”
Criswell, who coaches with Jerry Strahan, said it was easy to pick their captain.
“We talked, and we picked him for the same reasons he was picked as captain of the midget team,” Criswell said. “He’s a quality guy, he works hard for hockey, for football. He’s a leader.”
Criswell said he was planning on attending the game.
“If nothing else, I have the intention of watching a really good game,” he said. “They are really good seats, but I really want to see CJ out there. That’s going to be a special moment — just to see one of our guys out on the ice.”
For an avid Avalanche fan, it will be an honor for Walt to share the ice, he said.
“This is it,” he said. “And they’re having a good season, so it’s even better.”
Even though he will be wearing an Avalanche jersey for the introduction, Walt said he still would represent the Bulldogs during warm-ups.
“I have the Bulldogs’ sticker on the side of my helmet,” he said. “I’ll represent the best I can.”
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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:45 p.m. to include a response from the Bureau of Land Management’s national office.