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Training Camp Report: Day 1

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche officially kicked off its 2008 training camp Saturday with a pair of scrimmages and plenty of action on both sheets at the South Suburban Family Sports Center.


In a change from recent years – where the Avalanche has separated into two squads for training camp – this year’s version featured three teams made up of 59 players. That extra manpower has brought a different dynamic of sorts to camp.

“There’s a lot more people competing for jobs at every position,” said defenseman Brett Clark. “Every day you have to go out there and play like you have something to prove. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a short camp, so we have to get going as a team.”

Clark, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury for last season’s stretch run and through the playoffs, had been anxious to get back on the ice with his teammates.

“For me, it’s been a long layoff. To be back out there with the guys, it’s a great experience,” said Clark. “As you could see, it was a great pace today. There’s a lot of excitement around here and its fun to be back.”

Coach Granato’s Reaction to Day 1
Avalanche head coach Tony Granato remarked that he was pleased with the action on training camp’s opening day, labeling the intensity as “outstanding.”

“It was good to get things underway,” said Granato. “I think it was very intense; a lot of positive signs. You could tell that the guys were anxious to get this going and get things underway. They came out and played extremely hard for the first time on the ice as a group.”

Scrimmage Recaps
Because the players are broken up into three teams, each squad will take a turn playing two scrimmages in a single day at some point during camp. Today, it was Team Gray that took on both opposing groups.

Gray earned a 3-2 win over Team Black in the first scrimmage of the day, as Cody McLeod notched the game-winner with 3:45 remaining in the game. Paul Stastny also had two assists for the winner.

Matt Hendricks and Bryan Marshall staked Gray to an early 2-0 lead, but Joe Sakic and Darcy Tucker evened the game with goals for Team Black before McLeod’s tally sealed the contest.

In the second scrimmage it was Team Blue coming out on top of Team Gray by a 3-2 count on a late Jack Combs goal. Tyler Arnason and Cody McCormick also scored for Blue, while McLeod and Stastny got on the scoreboard for Gray.

Stastny Fine
Stastny left the ice and headed to the dressing room near the end of the second scrimmage after being involved in an inadvertent collision. When speaking with the media following Saturday’s on-ice session, Granato said that Stastny had suffered a contusion and “should be fine.”

Getting Familiar
Sakic, entering his 20th NHL season, looked like his usual self while skating with David Jones for the majority of his shifts, even notching an unassisted goal for Team Gray.

Meanwhile, Tucker spent most of his time on the ice with Wojtek Wolski during his first official skate with the Avalanche. The two seemed to find some immediate chemistry and set each other up for multiple scoring opportunities – one of which was converted by Tucker during the first scrimmage.

Colorado’s top pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, Cameron Gaunce, spent most of the day paired up with nine-year veteran Scott Hannan on Team Black’s blue line.

Family Ties
Defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote, who appeared in 79 games last season with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs, was a late addition to camp, replacing forward Dustin Sylvester. Cote, who is on a professional tryout contract, is the son of former Quebec Nordiques forward Alain Cote.

The elder Cote spent 10 seasons with the Nordiques, totaling 293 points (103g/190a) in 696 games from 1979-1989.
 
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