It’s been a busy few days for Cale Makar. On Friday, he was named the Hobey Baker Award winner for top college player. On Saturday, he and UMass played in and lost the NCAA Championship game. On Sunday, he signed an entry-level contract with the Avalanche, who had drafted him fourth overall in 2017.
Makar became the seventh player in history—and the first defenseman—to score while making his NHL debut in the playoffs. He did so on his very first shot. They’re not all going to be this easy, but: there’ll be a lot more.
Makar’s tally proved to be the game-winner in Colorado’s 6-2 win over the Flames to go up 2-1 in the series. And perhaps the 20-year-old was not just boasting, the day before, he vowed that the NHL’s speed wouldn’t require an adjustment period for him because “NCAA hockey is pretty fast-paced itself.” After Game 3, Avs coach Jared Bednar vouched for Makar’s ability to keep up. “He was good. Right from the get-go he was involved. He looked calm, cool, collected.”
Less collected were Makar’s parents, Gary and Laura.
“It’s a total surreal, pinch-me moment all wrapped into one. It’s insane,” Gary Makar said. “Couldn’t be more excited.”
There’s a small problem though. The Makars are from Calgary, and Cale grew up rooting for the Flames. At least he’s had a couple of years since being drafted to adjust to the idea of being an Av, though he never expected that his debut would come against his lifelong favorite team. “It’s a weird feeling going up against the team you grew up loving, but my allegiance lies with the Colorado Avalanche now,” Cale said, before joking that his parents were “fully Avs converted now.”
The same might not be true yet for the whole family. “We’ve got a lot of Flames fans in our family and we probably own everything they make, merchandise-wise,” Gary Makar admitted.