CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar was back on his team's practice ice on Wednesday, but not with his usual players.
Bednar and his staff led Avs prospects, newly-drafted players and camp invites through a 90-minute session to end the first day of on-ice activities at Colorado's 2019 development camp. The Avalanche coach introduced the group of about 30 players to some drills he frequently uses with the NHL club before he closed the practice with a fun, two-on-two competition between the blue lines.
"I think it is great, they are great coaches. You can learn so much from them and they have seen it all," Colorado prospect Sampo Ranta said of the experience. "They can teach us, and it is just great to get to know them. I want to be here some day, so it is just great to work with them and it has been a lot of fun so far."
The opening on-ice day of this year's camp also marked the first time that Colorado's selections from the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver got to skate with an Avalanche logo on their chest. However, there are also many attendees that have gone through the camp before.
One of the more experienced participants is 19-year-old Shane Bowers. He was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the first round (28th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, and the Avs acquired the forward in a trade on Nov. 5, 2017. He signed his entry-level contract with the Avalanche on March 29 after spending the last two seasons at Boston University.
"I think coming here this year you are a little bit more comfortable, knowing the staff, knowing a few more players you met from last year," Bowers said of his second camp in Colorado. "I think it kind of just lets you sit back and relax and work hard while you are here. You are not really worried about fitting in or asking for something because now you know everyone, everything is easier and I think it just makes you more comfortable getting here this week."
The day started with the participants being split into smaller groups that had time on ice to do skill and development drills as well as sessions off the ice.
One of the goals of the week is to help the prospects progress in their abilities of playing hockey as well as teaching them what it is like to be a professional athlete away from the rink.
"I think just listening to what everyone has to say, trying to take everything in from the on-ice sessions to the off-ice sessions to the gym, there is something to learn everywhere," Bowers said of what he wants to take out of the camp. "I think just being an older guy so-to-say here, kind of just be someone that the guys can look to. It is my third development camp, be someone that they can follow example and try to just lead by example while I am here."
Camp continues on Thursday with a group workout in the morning and on-ice sessions in the afternoon. The next time all the players will be together on the ice will be at EPIC - Blue Arena in Fort Collins for a three-on-three game on Friday night.