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Will Makes NHL Debut In Avs Loss

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche netminder Roman Will made his National Hockey League debut on Tuesday night, his entrance coming unceremoniously to start the third period of a 6-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Will replaced goaltender Calvin Pickard to start the final 20 minutes after the latter allowed four goals on 20 shots.

The Czech Republic native was recalled from the San Antonio Rampage on Monday night, and the he was expected to serve as the backup to Pickard in one, if not both contests of a back-to-back set in California.

That plan began to change by the time Colorado took the ice for morning skate at SAP Center, as Pickard—along with defenseman Erik Johnson and center Mikhail Grigorenko—stayed back at the team hotel due to flu-like symptoms.

Although head coach Patrick Roy said that he expected Pickard to be good to go for the game, it was apparent that the illness had taken it’s toll physically. The Avs fell behind San Jose after a tally just 6:19 into the game and couldn’t find their legs after that.

With a game against the red-hot Los Angeles Kings less than 24 hours away, Pickard was replaced in favor of the 23-year-old rookie.

Will was the featured goaltender at Tuesday’s morning skate at SAP Center as Pickard and Co. remained at the team hotel to rest. In preparation for his return to the rink at the alumni game on Feb. 26 at Coors Field in Denver, Roy donned pads of his own and took to the vacant net opposite the rookie, working to continue shaking off the rust of retirement.

“I remember why I retired, and I think that was the right call then,” he joked after the skate. “You know what, I think it’s fun for the guys. It’s fun for me as well. It prepares me for the outdoor game, and it brings a lot of memories every time I’m going back there.”

Will finished the match with two saves on three shots in 18:16 of ice time. He spent a few portions of the frame on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, and the only puck to get past him came on a deflected shot on a San Jose power play with 57 seconds remaining.


MCLEOD MILESTONE

Avalanche veteran and alternate captain Cody McLeod reached a personal milestone tonight at SAP Center in San Jose, appearing in his 600th NHL game.

Cody McLeod

McLeod became the ninth player in franchise history to reach the 600-match mark and the fourth skater to do so with the Avalanche. He joins Milan Hejduk (1,020), Joe Sakic (870) and Adam Foote (763) in the exclusive club.

McLeod has accrued 114 points (64 goals, 50 assists) since Colorado signed the 31-year-old as a free agent on July 6, 2006. He’s played every single one of his 600 contests with the club since.

A hockey-the-hard-way kind of guy, McLeod is a physical and emotional cornerstone of the Avalanche. His 1,263 career penalty minutes are a Colorado record and place him fifth in franchise history behind Dale Hunter (1,562), Steven Finn (1,514), Paul Gillis (1,351) and Foote (1,279).

Alex Tanguay could be the next player to skate in 600 contests in an Avalanche sweater, and it could happen as soon as this season. The veteran has 588 games with the burgundy and blue under his belt.


MACKINNON AND THE SHARKS

Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon continued his point-per-game scoring pace against the Sharks on Tuesday night, registering the lone Avalanche goal in the loss.

MacKinnon

The tally, which came on the power play, was MacKinnon’s seventh marker and eighth point in eight career games against the teal-sweater squad.

MacKinnon netted his second career hat trick at the Sharks when the clubs last met on Dec. 28.

The 20-year-old forward shares the team lead—with Matt Duchene—in points (40), sits second in goals (17) and is third on the club in assists (23) after 51 games played this year.

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