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Rookie Camp Report: Day 2

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Thursday marked the second day of Colorado’s three-day rookie camp, with 30 prospects again taking to the ice for morning drills. And much like on Wednesday, the rookies joined most of the Avalanche’s veterans for scrimmages following a 45-minute practice session.

While the practices during rookie camp have a serious tone, the intensity tends to go up an extra notch or two when the prospects hit the ice with the vets.

“The pace of play definitely goes up,” said defenseman Stefan Elliott. “You see how fast the vets are and how good they are, shift in and shift out, so you try to take it all in and learn from them.”

As Elliott alluded to, the young players can learn a lot from these informal scrimmages. Whether they’re discovering a few tricks of the trade or simply soaking in how the veterans carry themselves, having the chance to skate with players like Milan Hejduk and Adam Foote is a chance the youngsters relish.

“Even warm-ups are exciting, because I went on a 2-on-0 with Hejduk, which was a really cool experience for me,” said blueliner Tyson Barrie. “Stuff like that is exciting, and playing with guys like (Marek) Svatos and (Wojtek) Wolski out there is great. It’s kind of like a dream come true.”

More Experienced Than Most
A small amount of NHL experience can go a long way. Making it to the NHL level, whether that means skating in one game or 20, can provide a boost of confidence to a player trying to secure a full-time job at the NHL level.

Just ask Derek Peltier, a defenseman who is the oldest player at this week’s rookie camp, and one of only a handful of skaters with NHL experience.

The blueliner appeared in 11 games at the end of the 2008-09 campaign, averaging 13:15 of ice time per contest. Now in his second rookie camp, Peltier seemingly has an extra jump in his step and is exuding a higher level of confidence, due in large part to the experience he gained in Denver at the end of last season.

“I feel a lot more comfortable this year coming to camp than I did last year,” said Peltier.  “It was nice to get to know a lot of the guys at the end of last season. You not only feel comfortable on the ice, but in the dressing room as well.”

Peltier said he learned a few important lessons while watching the veterans during last year’s camp. The biggest? Sometimes the best play is the easy play.

He’s tried to incorporate that lesson into his own game and has encouraged some of the younger players at camp to do the same.

“The established guys make a lot of simple, easy plays and work to get to the right areas, and those plays tend to work out,” said the 5-foot-11, 190-pound blueliner. “You can watch those guys do the little things, and you realize the little things go a long way.”

Friday will mark the third and final day of rookie camp…Saturday will be an off-day for the rookies, while the veterans will report for physical and medical testing…A total of 59 players are scheduled to attend Colorado’s 2009 training camp.
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