The Avs continued training camp on Saturday morning. Here is a look at the day's activities.
12:40 p.m.: Following the veteran skate, spanning both sheets of ice at Family Sports Center, Colorado Avalanche prospects and new acquisitions were split into two teams for a three-period scrimmage.
An even mix of size, skill, grit and goaltending comprised the two rosters—teams Grey and Blue—which were coached by Avalanche development consultants Brett Clark and Brian Willsie. Giving fans their first glimpse at an actual game scenario, the friendly competition featured everything from officials dressed in their standard zebra-striped shirts to goalies swapping out on irregular line shifts to a five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period.
Team Grey struck first, with 7:31 remaining in the opening frame, when Troy Bourke managed to beat goalie Calvin Pickard with a shot from the left side. The lead increased nearly three minutes later when Andrew Agozzino, noted sniper from the Lake Erie Monsters last season, buried a loose puck behind netminder Maximilian Pajpach.
Forward Borna Rendulic assisted on both tallies, helping his squad to a 2-0 lead after the first period.
The Blue team put its foot on the gas in the middle stanza, applying pressure and tilting the ice significantly in its bid to tie the game.
Colin Smith got Blue on the board with a top-shelf blast from the doorstep with 5:57 remaining in the frame, showcasing some incredible accuracy.
The marker wasn’t enough to level the playing field, but Blue continued to surge in the third period, tallying with 12:36 left on the clock. Andreas Martinsen finished the play, beating Spencer Martin after receiving the puck from Mikhail Grigorenko.
With things all tied up, both sides pushed for the advantage, but it was the Grey team that came out on top. Forward Jesse Winchester, who missed the entirety of the Avalanche’s 2014-15 season due to post-concussion symptoms, was able to capitalize on a scrum in front of the net to find twine, regaining Grey’s lead.
Coach Clark pulled his goaltender with over a minute remaining, hoping the man advantage could inspire some offense. Though they ran wild in the Grey zone and peppered shots at the net, nothing could find it’s way through.
With less than 60 seconds on the clock, forward Alexis Pepin put the nail in the coffin with an empty-net tally to seal Grey’s 4-2 victory.
Given a chance to work on the newly instituted 3-on-3 overtime, Blue came out looking for some redemption. The wildly entertaining back-and-forth game came to an end with 8.5 seconds left when Nick Magyar found himself alone with the puck in the neutral zone.
Quick to transition, Magyar burned into the Blue zone, lifted his back leg and fired a bar-down shot up and over Pajpach and into the net for the OT win.
Coming off the ice, players described the game as fun yet uncoordinated.
“It felt great,” Winchester said after the victory. “The game was a little scrambly, I think. Not the sharpest, but I think you can expect that. It was good though.
“It was a little scrambly, but I think the effort was there. It was pretty competitive. That’s always good to see.”
‘Scrambly' seemed to be the descriptor of choice amongst those in the scrimmage, a predictable scenario given the composition of each roster. With players ranging from 18-year-olds taken at the 2015 draft to seasoned AHL skaters to guys who’ve seen time in the NHL, the range of experience was certainly varied.
Those who’ve played against men appeared to stand at a bit of an advantage, something that was noted by 2015 first-round selection (No. 10 overall) Mikko Rantanen.
“Of course, it’s a big difference playing against men and playing against same-aged guys, but I felt there was good competition,” the forward, who has played two-straight years against Finland’s best, said after the match. “I’m maybe a little bit more comfortable because I’ve played the last two years—whole seasons—against men. So that’s why I think I am a little bit more comfortable than the others who have not played against men. It’s good for me.”
Regardless, everyone said they were happy to get a little game-time in during Day 2 of camp.
“It was nice,” said Rantanen. “It’s always nice to play a game, big game. I felt pretty good. Of course we lost, so now we have to work out but maybe that’s a good thing for us.”
“[It was] uptempo for the most part,” said Winchester. “Our team was fortunate to come out on top.”
Andreas Martinsen—Mikhail Grigorenko—Mikko Rantanen Andrew Agozzino—Ben Street—Borna Rendulic
Dennis Everberg—Freddie Hamilton—Colin Smith Troy Bourke—Joey Hishon—JC Beaudin
Julien Nantel—Conner Bleackley—Reid Petryk Gustav Olhaver—Jesse Winchester—Garrett Meurs
Michael Schumacher—Samuel Henley—Daniel Maggio Alexis Pepin—Trevor Cheek—Nick Magyar
Nikita Zadorov—Maxim Noreau Brandon Gormley—Mat Clark
Chris Bigras—Cody Corbett Duncan Siemens—Nicolas Meloche
Sergei Boikov—Hubert Labrie Mason Geertsen—Justin Hamonic
Calvin Pickard Roman Will
Maximilian Pajpach Spencer Martin
11:00 a.m.: Fans gathered in heaps to watch the team take the ice around 9 a.m. at Family Sports Center for roughly an hour and 15-minute practice with most of the veteran players on Day 2 of Avalanche Training Camp. Team Burgundy consisted of eight defensemen, 12 forwards and goalies Semyon Varlamov and Reto Berra in net, resembling how a regular-season practice might be next month.
Today’s skate began with a focus on entering the offensive zone, as veterans were encouraged to concentrate on breakouts and create different attack patterns from the rush. The team then ran a pattern of plays dealing with transitions on a 2-vs-1 situation, and monitoring the gap between players on a rush. About halfway through the practice, the squad moved to the Hamilton Ice sheet in the building for a combination of 2-on-1, 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 action.
A half-ice, 4-on-4 scrimmage followed drills, with lines taking faceoffs from both circles to simulate a normal game while also firing lots of shots through traffic. Varlamov and Berra took turns in net and a few good checks were seen in the corners of the rink. Patrick Roy and the coaching staff were very hands on, periodically stopping the NHLers to instruct and provide feedback. Toward the end of the half-ice mini-game, there were noticeably more board battles, checking and attempts to put the biscuit in the basket.
A full ice 3-on-3 skate concluded practice with an upbeat tempo and lots of back-and-forth action. John Mitchell and a few others were able to light the lamp, but the D-men and netminders stood tall to deny most of the scoring opportunities. A few line combinations during the overtime simulation included Nathan MacKinnon skating with John Mitchell and Nate Guenin, Tyson Barrie with Marc-Andre Cliche and Brad Stuart, Francois Beauchemin on a line with Jack Skille and Alex Tanguay, and Gabriel Landeskog with Zach Redmond and Carl Soderberg.
One of the more noticeable players on the ice this morning was Skille, who was seen making multiple plays alongside Duchene.
Both goaltenders had a strong showing as they only allowed a handful of goals, much to the dismay of the crowd packed into the stands. However, when the puck did find its way past the goalies, the crowd erupted in cheer.
One noteworthy observation from this morning’s skate was the addition of shot blockers, which are lightweight, shock-resistant foot and ankle guards meant to provide skate protection. Stay tuned to ColoradoAvalanche.com for a story on the blockers soon.
7:30 a.m: Day 2 of Colorado Avalanche Training Camp opens today at Family Sports Center.
As head coach Patrick Roy said yesterday, the plan for today's session involves a practice and a scrimmage. A team of veteran forwards, defensemen and goaltenders will hit the ice first, running through regular, systems-based activities.
Following that, two squads of younger players and prospects will compete in the first and only game of training camp. The scrimmage will take place on both sheets of ice, with the switch coming at the end of each period. This allows each sheet of ice to be maintained without delaying the skate for those participating.
Roy's plan for the team is to get as much systems work in during the preseason as possible.
"We feel that we are going to have about nine practices before starting the season," Roy said on Friday. "We want to work on our offense. We want to work on our entries and make sure we are driving at the net and stopping at the net."
The veteran lineup is as follows:
John-Mitchell—Matt Duchene—Jarome Iginla
Gabriel Landeskog—Carl Soderberg—Blake Comeau
Alex Tanguay—Nathan MacKinnon—Jack Skille
Cody McLeod—Marc-Andre Cliche—Patrick Bordeleau
Francois Beauchemin—Erik Johnson
Brad Stuart—Tyson Barrie
Nick Holden—Nate Guenin
Andrej Meszaros—Zach Redmond