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Intensity Rises At Rookie Camp

by Scott Ward / Colorado Avalanche

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Intensity, from coaches and players, saw an uptick Monday as the Colorado Avalanche’s rookie camp moved into its second day at South Suburban Family Sports Center.

The same 28 players who took to the ice Sunday were back at it again, with Joey Hishon, the club’s first-round selection in 2010, held out once again because of a groin injury.

Six coaches led drills or dished out advice, including former Avs defenseman and captain Adam Foote, the team's new defense development consultant. He joined Colorado assistants Tim Army and Andre Tourigny, Lake Erie head coach Dean Chynoweth and Lake Erie assistants Randy Ladouceur and Jean-Ian Filiatrault, who led Sunday’s drills.

“The pace today was a lot better than yesterday,” said forward prospect Mitchell Heard, the franchise’s first selection (second round, 41st overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. “I feel like everybody was just getting a quick feel [yesterday] for the ice and the altitude, and the pace was pretty impressive today, I thought.

After a quick warm-up that lasted about 15 minutes and offered a chance for players to showcase their quick passing skills and skating routes, the teams split up across the red line and worked on closing gaps in one-on-one situations.

Odd-man rush drills followed, as the coaches wanted to see the players’ transition skills, and Army stopped the players a couple times and urged for more focus and attention to their passing games.

Then an intense bag skate conditioning session followed that brought many of the players to their knees.

Heard said it’s all part of the process of camp as the players prepare themselves for the intensity that will be expected Thursday during main camp and for whatever their seasons hold.

“I’m just trying to come in, feel loose, [and] have some fun,” he said. “Try to make the guys around me better and bring a positive attitude to the rink every day, go with the flow and see what happens, work as hard as I can and hope for the best.”


“We’ve seen a good level of intensity, urgency, and with a new coaching staff guys are wanting to impress and show what they can do. So, it’s an exciting time.”
     - Avalanche assistant general manager Craig Billington on his assessment of rookie camp so far

“I can’t talk specifics of what those are, but I can tell you that those are in place at the goaltending level and also at the forward, defense and team-system level.”
     - Billington on the franchise’s changes in approach on working with the goalies

“That was one of the tougher skates we’ve been put through, but it’s all part of it. It’s only going to make you better, and that wins you games in overtime later on down the road.”
     - Defenseman Duncan Siemens on the Avs’ conditioning session to end Monday’s practice

“It was a great experience for me to go out to Colorado for a few games [and] sit on the bench. Even though I didn’t get to play, I got to see how everybody prepares and how everybody plays on any given night. So it was good to see the level I want to be at.”
     - Goalie Calvin Pickard on his three NHL call-ups from Lake Erie last season


Rookie camp will finish up Tuesday with a third on-ice practice session, scheduled for approximately 10 a.m. at Family Sports Center.

The Avalanche will begin its full training camp Wednesday, Sept. 11, with veterans reporting for medical and physical tests. Colorado’s full squad will be on the ice for three days at Family Sports, from Sept. 12 to 14.

Practices and scrimmages for training camp will take place between 9 a.m. and noon.

All rookie and training camp sessions are open to the public at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Avalanche will close its training camp with its annual Burgundy/White Game at noon Sunday, Sept. 15, at the Air Force Academy. Colorado begins its preseason schedule Sept. 18 against Anaheim at Pepsi Center.

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