CENTENNIAL, Colo. – After three days of rookie camp, the Colorado Avalanche prospects' attention now turns training camp and competing against the boys from the NHL ranks.
Tuesday was the final day of rookie camp at South Suburban Family Sports Center before many of the prospects officially report with the Avs veterans Wednesday and resume on-ice activities Thursday.
"It was a good three days. Tough practices, real intense, real fast pace," said forward Andrew Agozzino, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Colorado this past spring. "I feel like myself and the whole team out there got better as the week went on."
Mason Geertsen, the Avalanche's fourth round selection in this past summer's draft, agreed with Agozzino in that he felt more comfortable after each practice.
"First day on the ice, it was fast, a lot faster than major junior so that was a big adjustment," said the defenseman. "The altitude change was also a bit stressful, it's kind of hard to breathe out there (on the ice). But as the days went on, it definitely got easier and I got more comfortable and felt a lot better out there."
After warming up with some forecheck drills, the third day of camp turned to the defensive zone with the forwards trying to keep the puck in the zone while the defensemen attempted to clear it.
The next drills focused on the player's transition game with odd-man rushes before the day closed with a scheduled bag-skate for conditioning purposes.
Once again, Colorado assistant coaches Tim Army, Andre Tourigny and Adam Foote, and Lake Erie head coach Dean Chynoweth and his assistants, Randy Ladouceur and Jean-Ian Filiatrault, led the drills.
Forward Joey Hishon missed his third practice as he's still out with a groin injury.
The prospects will now join the 29 veterans for the first training camp session, which is set to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at Family Sports Center.
For many of the players that participated in the rookie camp, they feel more comfortable and ready to compete against their NHL counterparts.
"I've been out here for the last week skating with the NHL guys before camp and this rookie camp really helped me," Agozzino said. "I feel that I'm ready."
"I learned that I still have a lot of room for improvement. I'm good, but I want to be a lot better."
-Mason Geertsen on what he learned about himself during rookie camp
"It was nice to play a year in Lake Erie and be familiar with a bunch of the guys here at camp. So coming in you know a lot of faces and some of the American Hockey League coaches."
-Andrew Agozzino on familiarity with some of the players in camp
"It took a little longer than some of the guys I played with in junior that were drafted, but it was well worth it. I feel like I've settled in a nice spot with an organization that has a ton of upcoming players and a lot of excitement."
-Andrew Agozzino on signing with the Avalanche as a free agent
NEXT ON THE AGENDA
With rookie camp over, the focus for the players now turns to training camp.
Veterans report for medical and physical tests Wednesday before Colorado’s full squad hits the ice at Family Sports Center Thursday for the start of the three-day camp.
Practices and scrimmages for training camp will take place between 9 a.m. and noon, and all 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 at the Air Force Academy. Colorado begins its preseason schedule Sept. 18 against Anaheim at Pepsi Center.