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Team Black Opens Camp with 6-5 Win

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche opened its 2008 Rookie Camp today at the Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colo. A total of 27 players are participating in this year’s camp, which runs through Wednesday.


The highlight of the day was a scrimmage, during which Team Black, behind two goals from Michael Vernace, pulled out a 6-5 victory over Team Gray.

The scrimmage was played in two halves with running time, while the action shifted between 5-on-5, 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 play. The first half ran 35 minutes, while the second half started with 30 minutes on the clock.

Due to a stellar display between the pipes by starting goalies Ian Keserich (Team Black) and Trevor Cann (Team Gray), it took nearly nine minutes for either team to get on the board. Team Gray’s T.J. Hensick finally opened the scoring by taking a cross-ice feed from David Jones and beating Keserich high to his glove side.

The teams then traded goals approximately two minutes apart, as Philippe Dupuis tucked a shot by Trevor Cann for Team Black and Jones notched a goal of his own on a breakaway to give Gray a 2-1 lead.

Jones struck again with 11:22 remaining in the first half to extend Gray’s lead to two goals, but Tom Fritsche answered for Team Black just over a minute later on a penalty shot to again make it a one-goal game.

Team Black received a boost going into the intermission, as Vernace took a Mark McCutcheon feed and beat Peter Delmas (who had replaced Cann at the midway point of the half) to make it a 3-3 contest.

After a brief intermission, Rob Drummond (Gray) opened the second-half scoring on a breakaway with 14:15 on the clock, but Kevin Montgomery (Black) converted on a penalty shot 1:45 later to even the game at 4-4.

McCutcheon then gave Black its first lead of the game with 10:20 remaining on a blast from the right wing, but Hensick made it a 5-5 contest with his second goal of the scrimmage with 3:30 left in the second half.

With the clock winding down, Vernace notched the game-winner on a play that was extremely similar to his tally near the end of the first half.

“It was kind of a broken play. We had some puck control in their zone and I was at the hashmarks,” Vernace said of his game-deciding tally. “The puck bounced to McCutcheon and he found me open in the slot, so I shot it five-hole. We did that earlier in the game at the end of the first half, so I thought I might try it again.”

Day 1 in the Books
With the on-ice portion of the day concluded, the attendees at this year’s rookie camp were pleased with how the afternoon shaped up.

“It’s kind of an eye-opener. Most of us haven’t played a competitive game in a while, probably since the end of the year,” said Chris Stewart. “It was a good pace, everyone was working hard, and I think it was a good tempo for Day 1.”

The Avalanche’s 2008 Rookie Camp continues Monday, with the prospects again scheduled to take the ice from approximately 9:30-11:30 a.m.
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