Leaf profile: Andrew Walton says ‘no big deal’ to play out his junior career in Nelson

first_imgThroughout the KIJHL season The Nelson Daily Sports Editor Bruce Fuhr will take a capsule look at the players on the Nelson Leafs hockey club. Today the focus in on starting netminder Andrew Walton.If someone in the crowd last year during a Nelson/Castlegar game had said in a year from now Andrew Walton would be wearing the Green and White and tending goal for the Nelson Leafs the response would have been:“Are you crazy?”But there was 6’1”, 170-pound Sunflower City native backstopping the green and white to a 3-0 victory over their Murdoch Division counterparts, in his hometown of Castlegar, no less, on opening night of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season.“I felt pretty good but that was definitely not the same (Castlegar) team as last year,” Walton said about the eventful night at the Community Complex.“(Sniper Ryan) Anysley wasn’t there so it’s not the same team as last season.”Fact is the 20-year-old goalie has moved on.Fact is Walton moved on last season when he asked for a trade in the middle of Castlegar’s amazing run that saw the Rebels make it all the way to the KIJHL final.“I just wanted to assure myself of playing in the Cyclone Taylor tournament,” Walton said when asked about the mid-season deal, a blockbuster trade by KIJHL standards.Walton got his wish. However, it was the road to the Cyclone Taylor Cup that he might have wanted to be traveled a little different.His former mates from Castlegar knocked Walton and the Ghostriders out of the playoffs during the Kootenay Conference Finals.A hiccup during the opener in Fernie proved to be the difference as the Rebels ousted the Riders in six games.Walton did get the last laugh against his former mates as Walton got a free pass to the Cyclone while Castlegar lost a heartbreaking KIJHL final to the Osoyoos Coyotes.But just when it appeared Walton would sip from the cup of Cyclone victory, the Peninsula Panthers skated away with a 5-3 victory in the tourney final.“That definitely sucked a lot,” Walton, still feeling that bitter taste in his mouth when the subject is brought up, said. “All of us could have played a lot better, including myself. But I thought during the game lot of the bounces went their way for sure.”But that was last year and this is a new opportunity for Walton.To be back in the West Kootenay, closer to family, and finish out his junior hockey career with the Green and White in Nelson.“I don’t really think it’s that big a deal,” said Walton about playing in Nelson. “It’s not like I necessarily going to be remembered for playing junior B in Castlegar.”Fans may not remember Walton in Castlegar in a few years.But the current Leaf players, especially the defence, will definitely have fond memories of Walton during this season.“He’s like another defenceman back there,’’ said Leaf rearguard Tyler Parfeniuk, one of two 20-year-olds, including Walton, that will be called upon to provide veteran leadership to this band of younger players on the Leafs.“He’s so cool under pressure and handles the puck so well.”Walton, enrolled in the carpentry program at Selkirk College, is eager to make this final season in junior hockey a successful one.After last season’s musical goalies between the pipes for Nelson, it’s obvious Walton will be a welcome edition to the Leafs.“I want to help Nelson go really far and win the league this year,” Walton prophesized. “I think we have a really good team here. We’ve got a really good bunch of guys and we’re only going to get better as the season goes on.”Andrew Walton Fast FactsPosition: GoalHeight: 6’1″Weight: 170 poundsHometown: CastlegarAge: 20:Favourite music: anything but countryFavourite NHL team: None really, but in a pinch Detroit Red WingsFavourite NHL player: Pavel DatsyukFavourite hobby other than hockey: Playing video games, NHL 12iPhone or BlackBerry: Knock off cell phonesports@thenelsondaily.comlast_img

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