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Rookies Continue Building Toward Camp

Avalanche prospects are preparing for the next two games of the San Jose tournament and the ensuing NHL training camp

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Colorado Avalanche rookie camp is a building process to the team's NHL training camp in less than a week, and the main focus is to get the young players ready to compete with the veterans. Understanding the structure that the club will play with for the upcoming season is a big part of being able to hang with the big boys, so to speak.

Sunday was another stepping stone for the Avs prospects, as they returned to the practice ice to review the previous night's Prospect Showcase game against the San Jose Sharks.

"It is nice to have another practice before we go into the next game of the tournament," said defenseman Chris Bigras. "Get more and more together as a group and make sure everyone knows their responsibilities on the ice."

The Avalanche held a 75-minute session at Solar4America Ice, the Sharks' practice facility, and worked on executing the club's system and developing their talent. Colorado's American Hockey League head coach, Eric Veilleux, ran the first portion of the practice before the team's development staff took over at the end to go over some skill drills.

"Compete level has always been a strong point in any talks that we've had," Bigras said. "We've tried to work on the details of the game, different aspects of the system. We have some players here that this is their first time with the organization. We're just trying to work out the details of the system and get on the same page."

Video: Chris Bigras a veteran among Avs rookies

In the rookie tournament opener on Saturday against the Sharks, the Avalanche lost 7-4 in a game that was back-and-forth until the home team broke the score open in the third period.

While it wasn't the first time that many of the players had put on a jersey with an NHL crest on the front, there were still a handful on the Avs roster that were getting their first experience of what it is like in the league.

Forward Travis Barron was on the Avs' roster at last year's event, but even he admitted that he was a bit anxious for the contest.

"Being here first of all is a privilege, and you have to work really, really hard," Barron said. "Yesterday, the first game, a lot of butterflies for a lot of guys here, myself included. It's tough to play when you're all nervous, but I'm looking forward. We did a lot of good things, but at the same time we still have a bunch of stuff to learn and get better at, little things, attention to details. We had a good practice today and look forward to tomorrow."

Video: Travis Barron on the Avs and his season in the OHL

While the Avs are ironing out the on-ice portion of the game, what they already have going for them is a camaraderie between teammates.

"Things are great," defenseman Josh Anderson said. "The returning guys are joking with the younger guys, which is nice so you're not tense all the time. I think everybody is pretty comfortable and happy to be here."

Colorado held out a few players from the practice to give them an extra day of rest before the start of two games in a matter of 17 hours. The Avs take on the Arizona Coyotes on Monday at 8 p.m. MT before closing out play with a 1 p.m. game on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

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