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Training Camp

Jared Bednar wins home debut with Avalanche

First-year coach pleased by late push in preseason victory at Pepsi Center

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche first-year coach Jared Bednar's debut at Pepsi Center on Wednesday didn't start out so well, but it ended with a 4-2 preseason win against the Dallas Stars.

"It was cool," he said. "I was excited to come out and play. I didn't love our first couple periods, a little too much standing around for me. We kind of dug in the third and started to play the way I like to see us play, a little more determined group. We came away with a win, which is always a good thing. We've just got to be a little more consistent with it."

The Avalanche have won their first two preseason games, having opened with a 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday. They had one preseason win in each of the past two seasons.

Right wing Jarome Iginla, who assisted on defenseman Francois Beauchemin's third-period goal, was impressed with Bednar's demeanor on the bench and in the locker room.

"He's pretty calm," Iginla said. "He's an intense guy, but he's calm back there. He wasn't happy with the way we were going after two periods, and rightfully so. We had a really good third period and we're learning some things, getting used to the style and the pace he expects from us. It always feels good to win, even if they're exhibition games."

Beauchemin and right wing Ben Smith scored in the third to erase Dallas' 2-1 lead, and defenseman Patrick Wiercioch cemented the win with an empty-net goal.

Bednar is installing a new system that emphasizes quick outlet passes and speed, what he calls a north-south game to move the puck from the defensive zone more efficiently and onto the sticks of the Avalanche's fleet forwards.

"We're definitely working on stuff," Iginla said. "He goes over stuff with us and what we're trying to do and the reason why we're trying to do it, the purpose. We want to be better and the guys are eager to learn. We have to keep that work effort up, and that's part of it. You want those habits to be there all the time."

Iginla said he's eager to see how the system works once centers Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene start playing games following their participation in the World Cup of Hockey 2016. MacKinnon, who played for Team North America, has been practicing with Colorado since Monday, and Duchene is playing for Team Canada in the best-of-3 final against Team Europe.

"With their speed, it'll be pretty scary," Iginla said. "I think it's going to be really good for us. We've spent too much time in our zone in the past, but there's more to it than just up and out. We have different things that we're trying to do. We're going to keep working at it and keep trying to get better.

"It's definitely a new system, different from what we've been doing and we're going to keep working at it. There's room for improvement and we have to make sure our compete and work ethic are there too. It's all of that that goes together."

Bednar said it will take some time for players to adjust, but he's generally pleased with the progress they are making six days into training camp.

"Not bad, not bad," he said. "I think it was better [Tuesday] night than tonight. We weren't skating, we were a little bit on our heels and a little flat the first two periods. It's the first game for a lot of our veterans, but as the game went on and the intensity started to crank up a little bit, I think we were better."

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