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Morning Skate Report: Sept. 18

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

While it won't count as an official NHL game, tonight's preseason opener against the Anaheim Ducks will still be an incredible experience for several Colorado prospects

"That is a life-long dream of mine: to put on a jersey and to play in an NHL game," said Colorado forward Troy Bourke, whose parents flew in from Edmonton to watch the contest. "It doesn't matter if it's exhibition or what it is. It's a dream come true for me and a pretty exciting moment for me."

Bourke, the Avalanche's second selection (72nd overall) in the 2012 draft, will likely play on the fourth forward line this evening with several other Colorado prospects.

During the team's training camp scrimmage, Bourke was on a line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, but the prospect didn't look out of place, as he made several solid passes to the two veterans that quickly ended up in the back of the net.

Tonight is another chance for Bourke to improve on the impression he's been making.

"Obviously, its an opportunity ahead for me. It's a big game to prove what I can do and if I can play in this league," Bourke said. "I'm not signed yet so I'm trying to make the biggest impression that I can and then go from there."

For Chris Bigras, he signed his first professional contract Tuesday and will also be playing in his first NHL contest this evening.

"I don't have too many expectations," he said. "A little bit of nerves but mostly just excitement to get out there, put on the jersey and be a part of the game."

Tonight's game will not be televised, but it will be broadcast live on the Altitude Radio Network (AM 950 in the Denver Metro Area. The audio broadcast of the game can be listened to online at

Avalanche Spotlight On: Chris Bigras

After a good training camp, the Colorado Avalanche coaching and scouting staff had seen enough good things from Chris Bigras and signed the defenseman Tuesday to a three-year, entry level contract.

Chris Bigras

"It's exciting. It's a step towards the goal that I've had since I was a little boy. Just excitement pretty much," Bigras said of his first professional contract.

Bigras was selected by Colorado in the second round (No. 32 overall) at this summer's NHL Draft and was rated as the sixth-best North American defenseman in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. He was also rated as the fastest skater in this year's draft class, beating out No. 1 overall pick Nathan MacKinnon (ranked second), who is known for his speed.

The 6-foot-1, 186-pound defenseman led all Owen Sound (OHL) blueliners last season with 38 points (8g/30a) while adding a plus-35 rating in 68 games. He helped Team Canada to the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sochi, Russia.

Bigras was paired with veteran Erik Johnson during his two Avalanche training camp scrimmages and at Sunday's Burgundy/White Game at the Air Force Academy. He will likely be paired with Johnson for Wednesday preseason contest as well.

More Morning Notes

-Goaltender Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net in tonight's game, with prospect Spencer Martin backing him up. The Avalanche selected Martin in the third round (No. 63 overall) of this summer's draft.

-Head coach Patrick Roy switched up his lines at Monday's practice, as he moved Steve Downie to Duchene and O'Reilly's line while moving PA Parenteau to line with rookie Nathan MacKinnon and Jamie McGinn.

-Downie, Duchene and O'Reilly will not play in tonight's game.

-This is the first of six preseason games for the Avalanche, and the first of two against the Ducks. Colorado will play in Anaheim on Sunday (6 p.m. MT).

-The Avalanche will open the regular season two weeks from tonight against these same Ducks at Pepsi Center.

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