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Skill Displayed At Burgundy/White Game

Semyon Varlamov returns to game action in the Avs' intrasquad scrimmage

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

DENVER--The 2017 Burgundy/White Game was a showcase of talent for the Colorado Avalanche. Both for present and future.

Many players expected to make Colorado's opening-night roster and several prospects had strong contests as Team White defeated Team Burgundy 6-2 on Sunday at the Avs' annual intrasquad scrimmage on the campus of the University of Denver.

J.T. Compher and Travis Barron each tallied twice for the White squad, which jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period at Magness Arena. Andrew Agozzino and Andrei Mironov also notched markers for Team White, while Sven Andrighetto and David Warsofsky scored for Team Burgundy.

"I liked our offensive side of it. I liked the tempo of the game," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar, who observed the contest from the press box. "I thought the game slowed down a little bit in the third period, but that is (after) two days of hard practice and testing, so that is to be expected. We made some breakdowns defensively, but usually those things tighten up as you kind of get your group together."

Video: J.T. Compher discusses Burgundy/White Game

Compher recorded two tallies in the opening frame, with his first coming on a breakaway 4:23 into the contest. After Andrew Agozzino knocked the puck in from a cross-ice feed at 8:12 and Warsofsky got Burgundy on the scoreboard 2:30 later, Compher struck again with help from newcomer Nail Yakupov.

From the blue line, Yakupov sent the puck in front to Compher, who was all alone with goaltender Semyon Varlamov and fired a hard shot into the top left corner with 5:41 remaining before the intermission.

"I like playing Yak. He's a real good play with real good skill," Compher said. "You saw that with that nice backhand sauce he threw to me in the first. I thought we had some good chemistry and that was nice to see."

Video: Nail Yakupov after Avalanche Burgundy/White Game

Yakupov finished his Burgundy/White Game debut with two assists as he later sent another saucer pass to Barron during a 2-on-1 rush that ended with the puck hitting twine and giving White a commanding 4-1 advantage with 11:28 left in the second period.

"A lot of guys were nervous. A lot of guys were trying to show themselves," Yakupov said. "For me, it was trying to see how I felt conditioning wise and what I had been doing over the summer, so it was a real good test for me today."

Varlamov played the entire outing for Team Burgundy in what was his first game since Jan. 17 versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Varlamov missed the final 39 contests last year after having season-ending hip surgery to fix his injured groin and was eager to get back in the crease.

"I was very excited. Even if it is just us playing against each other, a friendly game," Varlamov said. "It's exciting to be at a rink like this--it's a nice arena and I like to play here. For me, it was like a real game and was very important for me to play today."

Varlamov finished with 23 saves on 28 shots, but his objectives for the outing wasn't on the pucks he stopped or those that got past him. For him, it was about getting this timing back after missing eight months.

"It's important to feel the game. It feels like everybody is flying on the ice right now," Varlamov said. "It takes time for me to feel adjusted to the game. I need to play a couple more games before the season starts."

Bednar noted that Compher's two goals came on "perfect shots" and that Varlamov didn't get much help in front of him on a couple of Team White's other tallies.

"It was important for us to get him into the game here today, get him back into game rhythm," the Avs coach said of his starting netminder. "It's been a long road to recovery, and we only have six exhibition games and some of those end in a 3-in-3 (days). So we want to get him as many games as he can. I thought he made some big saves, for sure."

Video: Postgame interview with Semyon Varlamov

Goalie Spencer Martin started for Team White and finished with 10 saves on 11 shots before giving way to University of Denver alum Sam Brittain at the 11:09 mark of the second period. Brittain, who is at Avalanche training camp on a professional tryout, stopped 17 shots in his return to Magness Arena.

The only puck that got past Brittain came after Andrighetto received a stretch pass from J.C. Beaudin and scored on a breakaway to cut White's lead to 4-2.

Mironov extended the White team's advantage to three once again after his wrist shot from the point got through traffic with 3:01 remaining, and Barron ended the game with an empty-net goal in the final minute to complete a three-point day (two goals and an assist).

Video: Bednar reflects on the Burgundy/White Game

While Bednar watched the game from above with team management, his two assistant coaches and the San Antonio Rampage coaching staff ran the benches at ice level. Colorado assistant Nolan Pratt and San Antonio head coach Eric Veilleux coached the Burgundy squad, while Avs assistant Ray Bennett and Rampage assistant Randy Ladouceur managed the White bench.

The Avalanche's annual scrimmage is known as the unofficial end to training camp and the start of the preseason, and it plays an important part in the decision-making process for the team's final roster.

"That's a game where we're evaluating and seeing who is moving on and taking the next step with our club," Bednar said.

The Avs showed plenty of speed and compete on Sunday and will look to continue on Tuesday as they begin the preseason against the Vegas Golden Knights at Pepsi Center. The exhibition opener will be the start of a busy stretch for Colorado as the team plays five of its first six preseason games in a seven-day span.

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