A former professional hockey player who’s playing days may have ended a long time ago is getting a shot to live out a childhood dream by taking part in an NHL All-Star Event. Now known for his skills on the big screen instead of the ice sheet, Wyatt Russell is lacing up the skates in Las Vegas this weekend.
As the son of Hollywood stars Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, it’s no surprise that Wyatt has ended up on the big screen. However, before he began acting, Russell’s heart belonged to the sport of hockey.
Like most hockey players, Wyatt Russell started his career at a very young age. Beginning competitive play at just four-years-old, Russell quickly proved that he belonged at the rink. The California-born actor swiftly rose through the ranks while developing between the pipes, which sparked his family to move out west to British Columbia.
Russell got his first taste of amateur hockey when he found his way into British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). During the 2003-04 campaign, Russell suited up in two games for the Langley Hornets, being iced in relief. Following his brief stint with the team, Russell earned a much larger role in first full season of Junior A hockey.
In 2004-05, Russell joined the Coquitlam Express, where he primarily served in the backup goaltender role. Russell posted a 6-8-0 record and took to the ice in a total of 19 contests. Little did Russell know at the time, but his Express teammate, Milan Lucic, would go on to win the Stanley Cup just years later. His first stint in Coquitlam would be his last, as the American goaltender took his pads across the country.
Transitioning from the BCHL to the OPJHL (now known as the OJHL), Russell found a new home as a member of the Brampton Capitals. Competing with them in 2005-06, he appeared in 16 games, posting impressive numbers along the way. His .920 save percentage ranked as the seventh highest total league-wide, while his 2.57 GAA placed him twelfth amongst 79 goaltenders who suited up for 10+ games. A strong performance between the pipes during his debut caught the attention of scouts who were observing from the United States. Russell proceeded to play for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League (USHL) in 2005-06.
Following a one-year stint, he returned to the Capitals in 2006-07 for what was ultimately his final year of junior hockey. Suiting up in 26 games, Russell posted a .905 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against-average, significantly contributing to Brampton finishing the year at the top of the West Division. The Capitals proceeded to finish fourth in the overall league standings.
Following his junior hockey career, Russell continued on his hockey journey by joining the Univeristy of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers men’s hockey team. Wyatt served as the program’s third-string goaltender during his two years of collegiate hockey. With the team’s starting role in 2007-08 held down by Blake MacNicol, it was up to their two freshman to go to battle for the backup role. Russell had some stiff competition, losing the backup job to none other than Cam Talbot.
Talbot secured the starting job the following year, leaving MacNicol to hold down the backup role. After two seasons of Division I hockey, Russell signed a pro contract in 2008-09 to compete in Germany. His first stint of professional hockey saw the former child actor turned goaltender play with the EHC Timmendorfer Strand 06 in the Regionalliga (Germany’s fourth tier professional hockey league).
Russell suited up for two regular season games, and two postseason tilts to close out the 2008-2009 hockey season. After his first taste of professional hockey overseas, Russell signed a contract in the Eredivisie, which at the time was the top flight professional hockey league in the Netherlands. He joined the Pecoma Grizzlies Groningen, who’s defence and goaltending in years past had largely struggled. Russell suited up in 13 games to help carry the team before he was forced to retire. Similar to his father, Kurt, a former minor league baseball player, it was injuries that forced them both into retirement and out of the game they loved, which paved a new path into acting.
One of Wyatt’s first roles after the conclusion of his hockey career was as a hockey player, believe it or not. His love for the game of hockey is quite clear through some of his acting pursuits. The former netminder has appeared in the comedy ‘This is 40’, where he plays a flirty hockey player alongside actual current and former NHL players such as James Van Reimsdyk. Russell also played Anders Cain in ‘Goon: The Last Of The Enforcers.’ He is now most well-known for some of his recent roles such as John Walker in the Disney+ miniseries ‘Falcon And The Winter Soldier.’
Russell is set to make his NHL debut of sorts in the All-Star Skills Competition, where he’ll mind the crease for the inaugural Breakaway Challenge. Also making their NHL All-Star Skills Competition debut is Russell’s former teammate and Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot. They both started their NCAA careers together, and now, the two will hit the ice together in their first NHL All-Star event.