The difference between college hockey and the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is, as a matter of scale, the difference between going to the batting cage and stepping into a time machine to face Randy Johnson in his prime in baseball.
And by that metric, Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche just stepped out of that time machine and hit a home run.
Makar was a 2017 Entry Draft pick by Colorado but chose to play college hockey at Massachusetts.
He was outstanding for the Minutemen. In 41 games, Makar had 16 goals and 33 assists for 49 points, tops among defensemen and third overall, on the way to winning the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player.
In the process, he led UMass all the way to the Frozen Four before the Minutemen fell in the championship game 3-0 to Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday.
Take another look at Cale Makar’s wraparound chance with @UMassHockey still looking for its first goal.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) April 14, 2019
So great, season over, time to rest up for the summer and join the Avs for the 2019-20 season, right?
No sooner did Makar finish his college career than he was on his way to the pros.
Colorado signed the 20-year-old to a full three-year pro contract Sunday, and that meant Makar was set to join the Avalanche’s roster for the playoffs. No break, no training camp, just “welcome to the NHL, kid, let’s see what you got.”
What the Calgary native got was “He shoots, he scores!” against his hometown Flames on Monday at Pepsi Center.
As the announcer put it, “His first career National Hockey League goal on the biggest of stages!”
Meanwhile, Makar’s parents, watching from front-row seats, embraced while beaming with pride at the accomplishments of their son.
According to ESPN, Makar is just the fifth player, and the first defenseman, to score a playoff goal in his NHL debut in the “expansion era” (since 1967-68).
Cale Makar won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey this season. He played for UMass in the National Final on Saturday.
Tonight (two days later), he made his NHL debut for the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL Playoffs. He scored a goal just over 16 minutes in. pic.twitter.com/qkunF9DKdl
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 16, 2019
Colorado won Game 3 of the first-round playoff series 6-2, taking a 2-1 series lead.
And Cale Makar just took his first step toward being spoken of in the kinds of reverent tones usually reserved in Denver for the likes of Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy.
Welcome to the NHL, kid.
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