Werner Adjusting To North American Game
Goaltender played his first game of the 2019 Rookie Tournament against Arizonaby Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com
IRVINE, Calif.--Adam Werner's first game at the 2019 Anaheim Rookie Faceoff was a good refresher of the style of play he should expect this season in North America.
The Colorado Avalanche goaltending prospect is entering his first campaign of pro hockey on this side of the Atlantic Ocean after guarding the pipes for the past three seasons in Swedish men's leagues. Werner was one of the top netminders for Bjorkloven in the second-tier Allsvenskan league from 2016-2018 and put together a solid 2018-19 for Farjestad in the Swedish Hockey League, registering a 15-6-3 record, 2.02 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 26 games.
The Mariestad, Sweden, native was selected in the fifth round (131st overall) by the Avalanche in the 2016 draft and has attended the team's development camps for the past three summers, but he had yet to participate in a pre-season NHL training camp due to club commitments back in his home country.
He's finally getting first-hand experience at an NHL camp this fall after signing a two-year, entry-level contract on May 13.
"I mean everything around the game. On the ice, off the ice," Werner said of learning at training camp. "When you play the game, it's a little different than the game back home in Sweden, so there is a lot of stuff I can take with me and learn from."
Video: Adam Werner after the Anaheim Rookie Tournament
Werner was held out of the Avalanche's first two contests at the Anaheim Rookie Faceoff while dealing with a minor injury, but he showcased his talents in Tuesday's finale against the Arizona Coyotes.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound puck stopper turned away 24-of-25 shots, including denying Nate Schnarr's breakaway chance late in the second period to keep it a one-score game. Valentin Nussbaumer's goal off a turnover deep in Colorado's zone was the only puck that got past Werner, as the Arizona also tallied an empty-netter in a 2-0 win.
"I thought he was good. I mean he is a big goalie, from the bench when you watch him, I mean he is so big he takes up a lot of net which is obviously a comfortable feeling," said Colorado Eagles head coach Greg Cronin, who was leading the Avs prospects from the bench. "He is going to have to learn to play the puck more efficiently and that is kind of lower down the food chain for a goalie, as long as you are stopping the puck that is a priority… He was good and I thought he was very steady and stable in there. It is a really good building block to start from."
It was Werner's first game action in North America since a four-game cameo while on an amateur tryout with the American Hockey League's San Antonio Rampage in 2017-18.
"I think it was pretty good," Werner said of his rookie tournament contest. "It was my first game in a few months, so I was just trying to remember stuff out there. I think it was a good game for me.
"I think it is great to get a game and remember those small things you get in a game and don't get in practice. I think that was the most important thing for me, get a game here and go from that."
He's expected to play a key role with the AHL Colorado Eagles this season, but first he'll get his chance to compete and learn from some of the Avs' veteran goaltenders when the team's main training camp begins later this week.
The Avs' roster for the third rookie tournament game was a mix of players with pro experience or going into their first American Hockey League seasons and others trying to standout while without an NHL contract.
For Cronin, the difference was noticeable.
"Today was a unique game because we had five forwards that were American League players and the bottom six, if you want to call them, were not American League players, and they were playing against a team that was predominantly invites and draft picks," Cronin said. "So I think it was an interesting dynamic.
"I think when you saw our American League guys on the ice, there was a different pace to the game, we had a lot of possessions, quality shots. Then when the other group came on the ice, it was more competitive I would say. I told them after that this is just a great environment for them to learn where they stand and that like I said has been a theme, like where you stand in relationship to other players your age and other organizations. Hopefully they learn something individually and we learn something as an organization."
The Avs had eight players appear in each of the team's three rookie tournaments games over the past four days.
Forwards Alex Beaucage, Shane Bowers, Luka Burzan, Nick Henry, Sasha Mutala and Brandon Saigeon and defensemen Kevin Davis and Sasha Larocque suited up in every outing for Colorado in Southern California.
Beaucage, Burzan and Mutala were 2019 draft picks of Colorado, while Bowers, Henry, Larocque and Saigeon are each beginning their first full professional campaigns in 2018-19.
The Avalanche used the same leadership group as in Saturday's game, with Logan O'Connor wearing the captain's 'C' on his sweater while Martin Kaut wore the alternate 'A' patch. Neither forward played in Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Kings.
Kevin Davis, who also played on Tuesday, wore the 'C' in Sunday's game, while Igor Shvyrev was the alternate for that contest.
HEADING TO MAIN CAMP
For most of the players at rookie camp, they'll get two days off before on-ice activities resume on Friday when the Avalanche's training camp gets underway.
Colorado's four-day main camp runs Friday through Monday at Family Sports Center in Centennial. The practices are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Avs open their six-game preseason slate next Tuesday at home versus the Vegas Golden Knights.
A full Avalanche training camp roster will be announced in the near future.