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Rookie Camp to Begin Sunday

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Beginning this Sunday, Sept. 14, a total of 27 Avalanche prospects will take to the ice at the South Suburban Family Sports Center for Colorado’s four-day rookie camp.

The goal of the camp is to allow Colorado’s hockey staff to evaluate the young players while also giving them valuable on-ice sessions with the coaching staff.

“This time of the year is exciting for everybody, including the athletes who have spent so much time training in preparation for the season,” said Avalanche Vice President of Hockey Operations Craig Billington. “It’s a very fun time, and is something we always look forward to.”

This year’s rookie camp will again have a “home-grown” flavor to it, as 18 of the 27 players scheduled to be in attendance were drafted by the Avs. Included in that group are four players selected in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft: Cameron Gaunce (2nd round, 50th overall), Peter Delmas (2nd round, 61st overall), Kelsey Tessier (4th round, 110th overall) and Joel Chouinard (6th round, 167th overall).

For fans eager to get a view of the action, the Avalanche rookie camp is free and open to the public. Workouts are scheduled to take place in the morning from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and will feature a bevy of young, talented players who have previously made impacts on the Major Junior, NCAA, AHL and even NHL levels.

Among the 27 players participating at rookie camp, Avalanche fans will find:

-Three players with NHL experience in T.J. Hensick, David Jones and Darcy Campbell. Hensick saw action in 31 regular season games with the Avalanche during the 2007-08 season, totaling 11 points (6g/5a). Jones appeared in 27 games with Colorado last season and tallied six points (2g/4a). Campbell, meanwhile, appeared in one game with the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2006-07 campaign.

-A total of 16 players who saw action in the American Hockey League last season, including Chris Stewart, Colorado’s 1st round pick (18th overall) in the 2006 Entry Draft. Stewart led the Lake Erie Monsters – Colorado’s AHL affiliate – with 25 goals during his first professional season.

-T.J. Galiardi, who finished second among Western Hockey League rookies in scoring with 70 points (18g/52a) in 72 games for the Calgary Hitmen. Galiardi also led the WHL in playoff scoring with 24 points (5g/19a) in 16 postseason games.

-Nigel Williams, who helped the Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls earn a berth in the 2008 Memorial Cup. Williams ranked second among league defensemen with 18 points (7g/11a) in 21 games during the OHL playoffs.

I think organizationally we’re really excited because we have tremendous depth." - Avalanche Vice President of Hockey Operations Craig Billington
Billington is looking forward to seeing the talent pool at this year’s rookie camp, which he describes as “very rich and diverse,” from Colorado’s AHL prospects down the line to those players skating at the Major Junior level.

“For some guys, it will be their first NHL camp, which is quite exciting. For other guys, it’s going to be about building on what they accomplished last year,” said Billington. “I think organizationally we’re really excited because we have tremendous depth. There’s going to be really good competition at different positions.”

Colorado’s 2008 rookie camp runs from Sept. 14-17, with the 27 players in attendance joining 32 others for the start of veteran training camp on Sept. 19.
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