Cale Makar jogged back out of the locker room with a phone for one last picture of Falcon Stadium, big, empty and hot under a bright blue sky.
When the Avalanche defenseman returns this winter, it will look very different.
The home of Air Force football is set to host the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 15, 2020, for a Stadium Series game. Makar and teammate Tyson Jost got an idea of what the remodeled locker room will look like Wednesday — “It’s massive,” Jost said — and threw a football around on the turf that will give way to a hockey rink.
This will be St. Albert, Alberta, native Jost’s childhood, on a massive scale. He’s already talked about bringing his whole family down.
“For me it’s going to be really cool. I grew up on the outdoor rink,” Jost said. “That’s all we do in Western Canada. After school, you go right to the outdoor rink, and there’s where kind of your dreams and your goals are established.”
Makar joined the Avalanche during their playoff run this spring after his UMass season concluded. Though the Hobey Baker winner has just 10 games of NHL experience, when it comes to skating in a football stadium, he may have advice to give.
Makar got the outdoor experience playing for Canada in the 2018 World Juniors. Canada faced off against the United States in front of 44,492 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, N.Y., home of the Buffalo Bills.
That day, Makar recalls being focused on staying warm. It was around 15 degrees Fahrenheit at game time with a wind chill of 10 as the U.S. won 4-3 in a shootout.
Jost still hopes for cold temperatures and snow. When the Avalanche hosted the Red Wings in a Stadium Series game at Coors Field in Denver in 2016, it was so warm that cotton was brought in to resemble snow, and it blew around during the game.
“That’s Colorado for you. You don’t know what you’re going to get,” Jost said.
Perhaps Makar’s “before” photo was for the team’s group chat.
Jost said it’s already filled with talk of Feb. 15.
“This looks like an unbelievable venue here,” Makar said. “We couldn’t be more excited.”
If confirmation of an Air Force hockey outdoor game comes, it won’t be any time soon. Though a date against Colorado College at the academy on Presidents Day (Feb. 17) appears to be a placeholder, there is still no official word on whether the Falcons will get to make use of the NHL ice, and if it’s worked out, there won’t be an announcement for some time. Colorado College got the opportunity to play Denver at Coors Field the week before the Avalanche hosted the Red Wings in 2016. … Air Force hockey coach Frank Serratore said a few words in the football locker room Wednesday. He and Jost discussed Serratore’s nephew, Matt, who recently graduated after four years of playing for his uncle. Jost said Matt Serratore took him under his wing during Jost’s first year with the Penticton Vees. “I don’t think you’re ever going to find a better teammate than Matt,” Jost said.