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Picking Up The Pace

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The common phrase that has been echoed so far during Avalanche training camp has been effort and pace.

Those are two words that head coach Joe Sacco doesn’t mind repeating

“I thought the last three days have been very good,” he said. “I am very happy with the effort and very happy with the pace. I thought each day we got better and I thought today was the same thing. That is what we are looking for. I told the guys, ‘We just want to get a little bit better each day.’”

Day three of training camp on Tuesday was very similar to day two in that the team began with drills on a neighboring rink before going on their own ice sheet for a scrimmage at the Family Sports Center.

The primary focus of the first half of practice was one-on-one and two-and-two drills, which Sacco said would likely decide the outcome of several games during the season.

“At the end of the day, that is what is going to win you hockey games – the one-on-one battles,” Sacco said.

The scrimmage itself featured a little more hitting than the previous day. For defensemen like Ryan O’Byrne, who make a living out of checking people, it’s something that they enjoy.

“I think the best way to get into game-shape is to bang some bodies and play some defensive zone coverage,” O’Byrne said. “My game is to get physical so it’s been fun.”

Wednesday’s practice could be the last that involves the current 26-man roster as Sacco said personnel decisions would be made by Thursday. The itinerary for the day’s camp activities is expected to be centered on special teams.

The team will mix things up on Thursday as they’ll hold camp at Pepsi Center (closed to the public). Colorado will return to the Family Sports Center on Friday for a quick skate before flying out to Minnesota to open the season on Saturday night.

For just about all of the players in the locker room, the game against the Wild can’t come soon enough.

“We are chomping at the bit to get going,” O’Byrne said.

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