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Galiardi Nets First NHL Goal

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Vancouver Downs Colorado, 4-1

The Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks were tied, 1-1, after 40 minutes of action, but the short-handed Avs gave up three unanswered goals in the final period and dropped a 4-1 decision.

-Wojtek Wolski missed tonight’s game with an illness, meaning the Avalanche dressed only 19 players tonight (11 forwards, six defensemen, two goalies), one short of the norm for an NHL contest.

-Ryan Stoa, who the Avalanche signed to an entry-level contract earlier today, was in attendance at tonight’s game. Stoa will not report to any team for the remainder of the 2008-09 season and will begin his pro career in training camp next fall.

-The Avs played a much more physical game than the Canucks, finishing with a 23-12 advantage in the hits department.

-Scott Hannan logged a game-high 27:09 of ice time, including 6:48 with the Avs short-handed.
Much like he’s done in every other place he’s played, T.J. Galiardi is beginning to turn a few heads during his time in Denver.

Suiting up for just his fourth NHL contest after being recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters on March 19, Galiardi notched his first career NHL goal Friday night in Colorado’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Stationed behind the Vancouver net, veteran forward Ian Laperriere made a feed into the slot to Galiardi, who buried a shot that beat Canucks netminder Jason LaBarbera high to his glove side at the 13:25 mark of the opening period.

“It’s always a special moment when you get your first goal,” said Galiardi. “Just a lot of credit to the guys who were on the ice for that goal; it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for them. I’m pretty happy about it. I just wish it was in a winning effort.”

Watch Galiardi's goal

In his first professional season, the 20-year-old forward probably wasn’t expected to see much, if any, NHL ice time this year. But a rash of Avalanche injuries, coupled with Galiardi’s strong play in Lake Erie, has given the Calgary native a chance to make an impact with the Avs.

Following stints with Dartmouth College and the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, Galiardi has continued to impress onlookers with his development. And that includes Avalanche head coach Tony Granato, who has spoken highly about both how quickly the rookie learns and how strong his play has been defensively.

“He’s a kid who’s been very good in our own zone, back supporting our defensemen,” said Granato. “He’s playing with more confidence each game, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how he develops.”

Prior to arriving in Denver, Galiardi ranked third on the Monsters in scoring with 27 points (10g/17a) in 66 games.

Another Fresh Face
Defenseman Wes O'Neill made his NHL debut tonight, making him the eighth Colorado skater to do so this season. That number ties the Avalanche record for the highest number of players to skate in their first NHL game in a single season (Colorado also saw eight debuts in 1998-99).

The other players to make their NHL debut this year are Philippe Dupuis, Chris Durno, Galiardi, Matt Hendricks, Derek Peltier, Chris Stewart and Mike Vernace. Five of those players (Galiardi, Hendricks, O’Neill, Peltier and Vernace) were in the lineup tonight.

O’Neill took 17 shifts, totaling 10:33 of ice time, and registered one shot on goal.

Strange Sequence
In an odd sequence of events, Laperriere was ejected from the game and the Canucks were awarded a penalty shot midway through the second period. The Avalanche was on a penalty kill when center Ben Guite broke his stick. Guite immediately dropped the stick to the ice and Colorado continued to kill the man-advantage.

Shortly thereafter, Laperriere used his own stick to move Guite’s broken lumber out of the way. However, it was ruled that the busted stick interfered with a Vancouver pass after Laperriere had shot it toward the side boards, giving the Canucks a penalty shot. Laperriere then exchanged words with the official who made the call, and was given a 10-minute and a game misconduct.

Andrew Raycroft stopped Pavol Demitra on the penalty shot to maintain the 1-0 lead Colorado held at the time.

NCAA Tournament Update
Avalanche prospect Justin Mercier and the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks upset the University of Denver tonight in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. Mercier netted a first period goal as Miami, the No. 4 seed in the West Regional, defeated the top-seeded Pioneers by a 4-2 count.

The University of Michigan – the No. 1 seed in the East Regional – was upset by the fourth seed, Air Force Academy. The Wolverines’ 2-0 loss means the end of Avalanche prospect Billy Sauer’s collegiate career. The netminder, who dressed as his team’s backup tonight, finished his four-year stint at Michigan with a 71-30-8 career record.
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