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Gaunce Nets First Goal In Overtime Loss

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Gaunce Gets First Goal

Rookie blueliner Cameron Gaunce won’t soon forget Colorado’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, as it will go down as the night he recorded his first NHL goal and point.

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Playing in just his third NHL game, the Sudbury, Ontario native gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at the 14:19 mark of the second period when his wrist shot beat Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.

The play began with Gaunce having his point shot blocked by Pittsburgh forward Chris Conner. The rebound came out to Matt Hunwick, who tried to set Gaunce up for another one-timer. The pass was a little off, causing Gaunce to take a second to gather it before putting a wrister on net that eluded Fleury to his glove side.

"At the time it was great," said Gaunce. "Everything I’ve ever dreamed of, it was great. I heard all the fans going, the guys on the ice, it was really good, but I think a bit overshadowed after losing that game.”

The defenseman, who is in his first professional season, had recorded one goal and 14 assists in 54 games with the Lake Erie Monsters before being recalled on Feb. 12, but he’s definitely no slouch in the offensive zone.

While playing with the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in 2008-09, he was named to the league’s Second All-Star Team after recording 64 points (17g/47a) in 67 games and finished third in voting for the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL’s most outstanding defenseman. That same season, Gaunce was tabbed by league coaches as the Eastern Conference’s “Best Defensive Defenseman” and second-best “Offensive Defenseman.”

In 2009-10, his last season in juniors, he again earned OHL Second All-Star Team honors and was also third in the voting for the Max Kaminsky Trophy after totaling 37 points (6g/31a) in 55 games for the Majors.

Olver Returns
Rookie Mark Olver appeared in his fifth career NHL game during tonight’s contest, and his first since Oct. 16, 2010.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound forward began the game centering a line with Milan Hejduk and Kevin Porter on the wings. He saw a career-high 7:56 of ice time tonight and recorded two shots and one hit.

Olver, who spent three years at Northern Michigan University before turning pro at the tail end of the 2009-10 season, was recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters on Tuesday in the wake of Matt Duchene’s hand injury. At the time, the club wasn’t certain of the severity of Duchene’s injury, with Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco announcing Duchene’s status as “day-to-day.” After further examination, it was determined that the second-year center would be out indefinitely.

Olver made the Avalanche’s Opening Night roster this season after a strong training camp, but appeared in just four games - totaling two assists while averaging 3:23 of ice time per game - before being reassigned to Lake Erie.

The Burnaby, B.C. native has thrived with the Monsters during his first full professional season, ranking first on the club with 21 goals and second with 36 points in 52 games. He was also a late addition to the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic, where he recorded one assist and a +1 plus/minus rating for the Western Conference All-Star team.

Hit List
The Avalanche’s game plan coming out of the gates tonight seemed to be simple: play with energy and be physical.

During the first period tonight, it seemed like the Avs were hitting everything that moved. Colorado was credited with 18 hits during the first period, compared to nine for Pittsburgh. Cody McLeod and Ryan O’Byrne led the way with three hits apiece during the opening frame.

Colorado finished the game with a 32-25 advantage in the hit department.

And remember, per the NHL’s scoring rules, a hit is not simply making physical contact with an opposing player. Instead, a hit is credited when a player uses his body to separate a player from the puck, a much harder task to complete.
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