The Colorado Avalanche took the Pepsi Center ice on Thursday night for the second annual Avs Fan Fest and there was a familiar face participating in the session.
Veteran forward Colin Wilson joined the group for the first time this campaign after missing the first two weeks of training camp recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and a minor lower-body injury.
"It was good, it was fun. A lot of good games but at the same time it was pretty competitive and a good pace out there," said Wilson. "I am feeling really good, feeling confident. Feeling like myself even with just the one practice. I am excited to get back out there."
The roster was split into two groups, Team Burgundy and Team White, and each squad consisted of 12 skaters and one goaltender. Head coach Jared Bednar utilized more competitive, smaller ice drills with the focus on 3-on-3 play, something that Wilson said hethinks benefits him coming back to a full-team practice.
Video: Colin Wilson returns form offseason surgery
"I think todays practice was a great introduction for me because it was a lot of smaller area games, I haven't had that in a while so it is a good transition," said Wilson. "I think tomorrow it will make it a little bit simpler for me."
The Avs will get back into their normal practice routine on Friday before they conclude their six-game preseason schedule at the Dallas Stars on Saturday. But, the Fan Fest was an opportunity for both the team and the fans to share in the anticipation for the regular season to begin.
"I thought it was good, I liked the energy in the building. Our guys have been working hard and grinding through a lot of practices here lately and exhibition games," said Bednar. "To be able to come out in front of our fans and have a little bit of fun and get the excitement up for the home opener I think is a good thing. It was a fun day by everyone."
The Avalanche hosts the Calgary Flames to open the 2019-20 campaign on Oct. 3 at Pepsi Center.
FAN FEST ENDS WITH MAKAR WINNING SHOOTOUT
Bednar completed the Avs Fan Fest with a shootout, and it came down to third-year forward Tyson Jost for Team White and rookie defenseman Cale Makar representing Team Burgundy. The young rear guard found twine on three of four attempts and was ultimately victorious.
"It's fun, anytime you get to kind of interact with the fans, it is an awesome time," Makar said of the experience. "Regardless of if we are just practicing and they are watching, it is still just fun for them to be there. We get to play music the whole time, it's a good time."
Video: Cale Makar after 2019 Avs Fan Fest
It was not Makar's first time attempting a shootout at Pepsi Center though. The 20-year-old was utilized in Colorado's 3-2 shootout victory against the Minnesota Wild last Sunday but fumbled the puck before he could get a shot on net.
"I was glad to see him score, that is kind of what we thought we would see out of him at the game the other night, he had a mishap," Bednar said of Makar. "I like seeing what he did there today, him and Jost actually. We can use a couple guys besides just our big three that normally shoot. I thought he was great, and he found different ways to score. I didn't really say anything to him, but I was glad to see him pot a few today in practice."
OTHER INJURY UPDATES
Forwards Shane Bowers and Valeri Nichushkin did not participate in practice as they are both day-to-day with minor ailments.
Nichushkin blocked a shot in Colorado's exhibition outing at the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday but was able to finish the game.
"He took a shot in the foot there, he blocked a shot at I think the start of the third period, took it right on a soft spot so he is just getting some maintenance today," Bednar said of Nichushkin. "I don't know if he will be on the ice tomorrow either, he is kind of day to day right now."
Forwards: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Matt Calvert, Joonas Donskoi, A.J. Greer, Vladislav Kamenev, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Jayson Megna
Defensemen: Mark Barberio, Kevin Connauton, Samuel Girard, Cale Makar
Goaltender: Pavel Francouz
Forwards: Andre Burakovsky, J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost, Nazem Kadri, Matt Nieto, T.J. Tynan, Colin Wilson
Defensemen: Ryan Graves, Erik Johnson, Calle Rosen, Conor Timmins, Nikita Zadorov
Goaltender: Philipp Grubauer