by Jacob Lazare |
As we continue through the offseason, it is time to take a look back at the season that was. The “Moving On” series will showcase all of our graduating players as they prepare for the next step in their hockey journeys and lives.
Pito Walton was noticeable from the moment he arrived in Coquitlam.
Walton’s offensive talents as a blueliner were apparent during the pre-season, and the Peapack, NJ native did not disappoint at that end of the ice leading Express defencemen with 36 points in 58 games.
Walton joined the Express from the North Jersey Avalanche program with an Ivy League scholarship to Princeton already on his résumé. After a year of Junior A hockey, Walton is making the jump to the NCAA, a move he knows will not be easy.
“I am really looking forward to playing for the Princeton coaches and helping the team achieve the goals they have set as a program. At the same time, I am very excited to to get know and play with my new teammates. The fact that it is only and hour away from where I grew up is really special because my friends and family can watch me play. I think for me to be successful in college hockey I have to work hard on getting bigger, stronger, and faster. I know that people say this all the time, but training and working hard in the summer can really make or break the difference of your ability to play at the next level,” – Pito Walton
Walton will be joining former Express captain Jackson Cressey at Princeton next season, with Express commit Nicholas Carabin slated to join the Tigers in two years time. The Express connections to the school are strong, and as far as Walton is concerned, his time in Coquitlam has prepared him for the jump to Princeton.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to have had the opportunity to play for the Express this past year. I couldn’t imagine a better place to play in my junior career. There are a lot of aspects to the program that make it so special which include an incredible coaching staff, owners and administration, training staff, media team, volunteers and of course the fans. Not to mention my great billet family and all of the families that took such good care of us. The best part of my express experience however, was my teammates. I have never gotten so close to a group of guys in my hockey career. I am sure that my brothers and I will be friends for life.”
If you have read the previous editions of our Moving On series, you will know that I always ask the players about their favourite Express memory. Walton, agreed with teammate Chase Danol that winning game 4 of the playoffs against Prince George and handing them their only loss en route to a Fred Page Cup championship was an unforgettable event, but Walton mentioned a very specific moment in that game that helped ensure an Express victory on home ice.
“It was the end of the second period and we were up 1-0 with under a minute left. Prince George had good pressure in our zone and puck came through from the point in the closing seconds that popped up into the air and seemed to be falling behind Clay and into the net. With a last ditch effort, I swatted the puck out of the air to keep it out and defend our lead. More importantly we ended up winning the game to force a game five back in PG.”
We wish Pito the best of luck as he moves on to Princeton next season!