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On The Road: Game Day In Ottawa

J.T. Compher makes his NHL debut

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

The Colorado Avalanche players began game day preparations for the Ottawa Senators on Thursday at the team's downtown hotel, holding a stretch and then a meeting with the coaches.

The first team activity of the day was an optional stretch at 11:00 a.m. While the session lasted for an hour in one of the ballrooms, many of the players showed up in the latter half of the period after having breakfast at the hotel's restaurant.

For rookie forward J.T. Compher, it had been a whirlwind morning as he arrived in Ottawa about an hour before the stretch. He was recalled from the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday afternoon and was expected to make his NHL debut in Ottawa. Compher's time at the hotel was short, but he was able to drop off his few belongings in fellow rookie Mikko Rantanen's room for a couple hours

At noon, the players went downstairs to a conference room where they watched some video clips and discussed the Senators. The session lasted 20 minutes, and the players then went to a room next door for lunch before taking a pregame nap.

Compher's meal and nap were a bit delayed following the team meeting, as he discussed Colorado's system with head coach Jared Bednar before having a one-on-one video session with assistant coach Tim Army.

The game rink of the Senators is near the suburb of Kanata, which is roughly 30 minutes away from Canada's capital. To make sure that all the players had plenty of time to get ready for the contest, there was only one team bus that went from the hotel to the arena.

The bus departed the hotel at 4:30 p.m. and took side streets to get to the rink to avoid rush-hour traffic in Ottawa.

Colorado arrived at Canadian Tire Centre a little after 5:00 p.m., and the players began their pregame routine, which included taping sticks, stretching and playing a little soccer.

The puck drop between the Avalanche and Senators was at 7:41 p.m. Colorado took three first period penalties, and Ottawa grabbed the momentum because of it. Alexandre Burrows scored twice in the contest for the Sens, and despite a third-period marker from Rene Bourque, the Avs couldn't tie the contest and lost 2-1.

Forty-four minutes after the final buzzer sounded, the Avalanche's team buses left the arena's loading docks and headed to the airport at 10:42 p.m. Colorado's charter flight departed the Ottawa airport at 11:33 p.m. ET and headed east to Winnipeg for the club's final destination on the road trip.

On the plane, the Avs players had dinner and then played cards, watched movies or slept to pass the time.

After two hours and 22 minutes in the air, Colorado's flight landed in Winnipeg at 12:55 p.m. CT. The outside temperature was hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit, much warmer than when the club was here in November where it was minus-30 degrees Fahrenheit. Once departing the plane, the Avs grabbed their belongings, loaded up onto buses and made their way to the hotel.

The Avalanche arrived at its downtown Winnipeg hotel at 1:26 p.m. CT, and the players quickly went up to their rooms to get some sleep and rest up for a practice the next day. 

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