Saturday’s 2023 NHL Alumni Winter Classic in Carbondale was not just a showcase of hockey talent, but also a vibrant community festival. Notable players like Henrik Lundqvist and Milan Hejduk joined others on the ice, as the Burgundy team won an impressive 8-2 victory.
The event, however, was much more than the scoreline. It was a day filled with excitement, community spirit and a celebration of the sport.
“An event like this, it’s a win-win,” Hall of Fame goalie Lundqvist said. “Everyone is having a blast and we get to connect with some players that we haven’t seen in a couple of years. Sheldon has done an amazing job putting this event together. It feels great being able to help this community and this program.”
The atmosphere was electric, with stalls selling exclusive apparel, a variety of food and drinks and an array of activities for all ages. As the night progressed, the excitement only intensified, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display that lit up the Carbondale sky, mirroring the day’s energetic spirit.
Sheldon Wolitski, the founder of youth hockey program Colorado Extreme, orchestrated this grand event, blending sports with community celebration. His efforts brought together families, fans and former NHL stars, creating a day to remember.
“An event like this, it’s a blessing and I hold a lot of gratitude,” Wolitski said. “These are some of the greatest hockey players ever and for them to be here, it truly is incredible. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
The local community, particularly the young hockey enthusiasts, were in awe of the players and the spectacle. The event was a source of inspiration for many.
“This is amazing,” Colorado Extreme mom Cheryl Velasquez said. “These kids are going to be on the moon for weeks on end. What Sheldon has done for the hockey community in this valley is truly incredible.”
As the night drew to a close, the impact of the event was palpable. It wasn’t just a game of hockey; it was a celebration of the sport’s ability to unite people, create joy and inspire the next generation.
Reflecting on the day’s success and the joy it brought to the community, Wolitski shared a heartfelt sentiment:
“Seeing the smiles, the excitement and the community coming together like this, it reminds us why we do what we do,” he said. “It’s all about bringing joy and inspiration to these kids and the community. It was a great night for this community and this program. I couldn’t be more grateful for the turnout.”