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Castlegar's Walker signs entry-level deal with Avs

Luke Walker . . . signs with Avs

By The Nelson Daily Sports

The Colorado Avalanche of the NHL announced Tuesday the club had signed Luke Walker of Castlegar to an entry-level contract.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Colorado selected the Sunflower City minor hockey grad in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. In two pre-season games with the Avs, Walker, who played in the WHL last season for the Portland Winterhawks, scored one goal.

Walker played three seasons with the Winterhawks and had 27 goals and 30 assists in 61 games this past year.

Of course it was during the recent season that Walker helped the United States knock of Canada to claim the gold medal at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship.

However, it will be the route Walker took to the gold medal that will be talked about for years. Walker, 19, first overcame a serious facial injury — he was hit in the face by a puck during a December 8, 2009 contest against Everett Silvertips — that required hours of dental surgery.

The injury, requiring more than 50 stitches and emergency surgery at 7 a.m. the following morning in Portland, happened days before Walker was to attend the Team USA training camp.

Still wanting to attend the camp despite the loss of stamina, Walker made the trek. But now wearing a face shield to protect the injury he was barely able to survive the rigours of the camp.

In fact when the scrimmage was about to begin the coaching staff told Walker to leave the ice. Walker pleaded with the coaches to let him play and was one of the better players on the ice forcing evaluators to select him to the team.

Walker has been reassigned to Lake Erie of the AHL on Sunday.