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Tyson Jost's Dream Realized

Colorado's 2016 first-round draft pick makes NHL debut

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

It's a dream that Tyson Jost has had since he was young kid.

It was built on skates with his mom on outdoor rinks in frigid Alberta winters and then evolved as she coached him through pee-wee hockey. His love for the game continued to grow at the Pursuit of Excellence school in British Columbia, and his skill was refined with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL and at the University of North Dakota.

On Friday night at Pepsi Center, Jost's dream was realized, as he put on the Colorado Avalanche jersey and skated on National Hockey League ice for the first time, helping the club to a 2-1 shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues.

"It was awesome. It was nice to get that win, too, in the shootout," Jost said. "It was a great game, and it was everything that I expected. It was a pretty surreal experience. It was great to come up with these guys and get used to everything and also have my family in the crowd, too. It was everything I dreamed of, even more."

Jost tried to prepare for the outing like he had thousands of times previously, but this game would always be different. You only get one NHL debut.

"That's what I tried to focus on, do everything the same and just prepare like I usually do for a regular game, even though it obviously wasn't one," he said. "It is one that comes around once in a lifetime. That is what I tried to do, prepare the same. Obviously, I had some nerves, but I think the team did a great job in helping me ease into things, for sure."

Just 2:15 into the Avalanche's contest against the Blues, Jost jumped over the boards with linemates Rene Bourque and Matt Nieto and officially wrote his name in the NHL history books.

"There were a little bit of nerves, for sure," Jost said of his first shift. "I think that is pretty usual. I'm only human. Once I got a couple shifts under my feet and started getting some confidence, I thought I played pretty good."

His single mother Laura, who arrived in Denver earlier in the day and was watching from the stands with Tyson's grandfather, admitted that she was probably more nervous throughout the game, especially during that first shift.

"I don't know if my heart had stopped or if it was racing into my throat," Laura said in an interview during the contes. "It was so exciting, and I think I took every stride with him, every poke check, every hit. I thought I was right along with him, and I'm exhausted."

Tyson finished with two shots, one hit, one takeaway and a blocked shot in 13:25 of ice time. He also went 5-for-10 at the faceoff circle while centering the Avalanche's third line.

Video: Jost after his first NHL game, a win

The forward didn't play against St. Louis' top lines, but he did see action in every situation--power play and shorthanded--and even got a shift in overtime as well.

"I thought he was really good," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. "I thought a little bit of a slow start in the first period, feeling things out a little bit, but he got better as the game went on. I really liked his second period. Smart player, does a lot of good things. Made some plays on the defensive side of the puck, made some plays offensively; a good trustworthy guy that sees the ice real well. I liked him a lot."

When the game went to a best-of-three shootout, Bednar sent Jost to be the Avs' second shooter.

"[Bednar] came up and said, 'Have you done a few shootouts in your life?' and I said, 'Yeah, a few,'" Jost said. "Obviously, it was disappointing that I missed it, but I could care less because we got the win. That's all I wanted."

Bednar, like many of the other Avalanche fans in attendance, was curious to see what the 19-year-old from St. Albert, Alberta, could do with a breakaway with a chance to end the game.

"I wanted to see him shoot," Bednar said of his reasoning. "We were talking on the bench, and we have a number of options now and I wanted to put him in a situation there. I know our fans want to see it. I think that is one of the things that we can do due to where we are at in the standings. I wanted to give him a lead, too. So, when [Matt] Duchene buried that and [Calvin Pickard] makes a big save on [Alexander] Steen, he can go out there and shoot with no pressure."

Video: Coach Bednar's postgame press conference

Drafted No. 10 overall by Colorado last summer, Jost signed his three-year, entry-level contract with the Avalanche on Wednesday night and joined the squad on Thursday.

He wasn't able to get a full team practice in before the contest, but he worked on drills Friday morning with assistant coach Tim Army and with several of his new teammates to get ready for his debut in the league.

No matter what would have happened versus St. Louis, it was for sure going to be a night Jost wouldn't forget.

"It was something that I'm going to remember for a long, long time," Jost said afterward. "Having my family come down and be in the crowd, that is pretty special. They have done a lot for me throughout my life here and especially my mom. I owe a lot to her. I can't wait to go see her and give her a big hug and thank her for everything that she has done for me. My grandparents too. It was an awesome experience to say the least."

It was a long day for Laura and the rest of Jost's family that made the trip from the Edmonton suburb, as they were up at 3 a.m. to catch a flight to the States to watch Tyson play.

Maybe the only thing that would have made the day better was if Jost's sister and grandmother were able to join in the trek from Canada as well, but you can be sure they were watching back home.

"It was a very special feeling," Laura said of watching her only son skate in the top tier of the sport. "It was a dream come true, and to be a part of it with my family. It's unfortunate that Tyson's sister couldn't be here and his grandma, but it was a moment in time that I will never forget."

Video: Alexis interviews Laura and Jim Jost

Not many teenagers can play NCAA hockey one day and then compete in the NHL a week later.

Jost was able to make that jump thanks to his skill and the Avalanche organization believing he is ready to compete in the major leagues.

Playing in the NHL just adds to Jost's achievements, which already included a gold medal in the Under-18 World Championship, a silver at this past season's World Junior Championship and a BCHL MVP award.

While Laura is pleased with ever everything that Tyson has accomplished on the ice, she is most proud of what type of people he and his sister (a volleyball player) have become away from the field of competition.

"I couldn't be more proud to see him and my daughter be good citizens," Laura said. "They learned that from all the trials of sports and all the people they've met. I'm absolutely proud to see my kids loving what they do and happy as ever."

Tyson's journey didn't begin on the last day of March in Denver, Colorado. In fact, far from it. It was just another stop on his trip to his ultimate goal of winning "a few Stanley Cups."

Friday was a good start in reaching that, and the future looks bright for the both him and the Avalanche.

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