(Editor’s note: This story covering future Hollywood actor Wyatt Russell’s journey as a junior goalie at the Keystone Cup was published on April 17, 2004. The Chronicle-Journal will periodically go back in time and rerun work from some of our past columnists and reporters)
The California rink Wyatt Russell started playing hockey on wasn’t much bigger than the one in the Schreiber Rec Centre.
Just another tidbit one of the more high profile junior B players at this week’s Keystone Cup Western Canadian championship reveals, proving the game can grow on you wherever you’re from.
“We skated at Culver City and it was pretty small. My older brother (Oliver) was like my idol and he was a goalie,” said Russell, the Richmond Sockeyes starter who has garnered attention in this small Northwestern Ontario town for being the son of movie stars Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawk, as well as the half-brother of actress Kate Hudson.
“I figured if they can’t score, then they can’t win. I liked winning so I gave it a try,” he added.
Russell and his parents moved to the Vancouver suburb from Los Angeles two years ago to get a taste of Canadian junior hockey.
This past season, the stigma over Russell as, ‘that Hollywood kid’ began to die down. The 17-year-old has blossomed into a strong keeper, going 21-8-4 with a 2.59 goals against average in the Pacific International Hockey League this season.
“They’re just hockey players who want to be treated like anybody else,” Sockeyes coach Ron Johnson said.
But Russell knew some attention would find him this week, especially in a place where America celebrities aren’t found — unless you count Bob Seger’s litter altercation with a hotel owner in nearby Rossport six years ago.
“It’s a small town and they’re the best for hockey,” Russell said. “And being in the family I’m from, even if I only save 10 per cent of my shots, there’s going to be some attention, unfortunately.”
He said he doesn’t expect his parents in attendance even if Richmond reaches Sunday’s gold medal final.
“My dad was going to come up here, but he had to see my grandma,” Russell said. “My mom is working somewhere out in the Midwest.”
Besides winning the Keystone Cup, Russell has his sights set on landing a spot on a junior A club before jumping to the U.S. college ranks. He took a shot at that level during training camp season, but opted to return to Richmond.
“I was ready to play (in junior A), but I don’t think I was ready to win,” Russell said. “I want to get an education while playing hockey. If I keep working hard and have no regrets, I think I can pull it off.”
Wyatt Russell and the Richmond Sockeyes would lose the 2004 Keystone Cup final to the Regina Capitals, 4-3 in overtime. Russell went on to finish his junior career in the U.S. before playing at the NCAA level for Alabama-Huntsville. He would eventually join the family business and has appeared in over 20 movies and television shows to date. Russell, 34, currently plays the new Captain America in the Disney/Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.