CENTENNIAL, Colo. – With Team Gray's 6-4 victory over Team Blue in the final scrimmage, the practice portion of the Colorado Avalanche's training camp came to a close Saturday at South Suburban Family Sports Center.
The win gave Team Gray a 2-0 record during camp and the Avs' "Training Camp Tournament" championship.
That was much to the dismay of competitive Matt Duchene, whose Team Black went 1-1 in the tournament and was hoping Team Gray would lose and score fewer than three goals so his squad could take the title via tiebreaker (goals for).
"It matters," Duchene said of the "tournament" as he watched the first period outside the Avalanche locker room.
Each of Colorado's three training camp teams participated in a practice and two scrimmages over the last three days in preparation for Sunday's Burgundy/White Game and the preseason, which begins Wednesday at home against Anaheim.
The scrimmages featured two 40-minute periods with running time, but the Burgundy/White Game will have more of an NHL game feel to it. The first period of Sunday's intra-squad matchup will have a running clock for the first 15 minutes while the final 45 minutes will have stoppages of play. There will also be power plays instead of the penalty shot breakaways that were featured the last three days at camp.
However, no matter what the score is after regulation Sunday, both teams will participate in a shootout to give the fans at the Air Force Academy a show.
"It's always fun. I think Air Force does a good job. It might be a little higher in elevation so it might be a little more tiring," Stastny said with a smile after Saturday's camp session. "It's a fun building, good little college building where [the fans] almost sit on top of you and its really loud in there.
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start in net during the Burgundy/White Game, and head coach Patrick Roy said Varlamov will also get the start in Wednesday's game against the Ducks.
In Saturday's scrimmage, Team Gray and Team Blue played a back-and-forth affair throughout the two 40-minute periods.
The first period was a defensive struggle with Team Blue's Jamie McGinn's scoring the lone goal in the stanza. It was the first of three goals by McGinn in the game.
The second period, though, was a different story.
Goals a minute apart from Trevor Cheek and Markus Lauridsen gave Team Gray a 2-1 lead early in the second before both teams traded goals until the final five minutes, when tallies from JT Wyman and Alex Tanguay secured the win for Team Gray.
During the first period, Gabriel Landeskog of Team Gray and Steve Downie of Team Blue got in a little skirmish on the ice. Nothing escalated except pushing and shoving, and Landeskog said afterwards it was just guys being competitive during the game.
"It's hard out there and you don’t want to give an inch to the other team," the Avalanche captain said. "You practice against these guys all year, but you never get to play as hard as you do out here (in a scrimmage). So when you do, you want to play extra hard, and you want to make sure you don't give the guys anything to chirp you about during the season. I thought it was a good scrimmage today."
Roy said he liked the passion the two players showed.
"I like it. I think it shows that guys want to do things differently than in past years," Roy said. "When you have made the playoffs once in five years, you need to come in with a different attitude, and that is what I've seen so far."
The coaches for the scrimmage were once again amateur scouts; Anders Carlsson for Team Blue and John Harrington for Team Gray. Harrington also coached Team Gray's win over Team Black on Thursday.
Team Black participated in the practice with the coaching staff in the early session of the day, going through the same defensive and transition drills as Team Blue and Team Gray did the two days earlier.
After the day's camp activities, there was a good sign on the ice as Joey Hishon was skating by himself. However, Roy did not give any timetable on when Hishon may be able to return to practice after suffering a groin injury right before rookie camp.
"I spoke to [head athletic trainer] Matt [Sokolowski] and he likes the progress," Roy said of Hishon's injury. "Matt is very happy with the way things are going right now. He is still day-to-day. Obviously, there is a process to go with it, but as we speak, he is getting better and better."
As for first cuts in the team's current 58-man camp roster, Roy said that would be announced soon.
"We have a meeting this afternoon, and we will make some cuts, probably later this afternoon, and we'll post the lineup for tomorrow," Roy said.
Sunday's Burgundy/White Game is set to begin at 12 p.m. at Cadet Ice Arena on the grounds of the Air Force Academy. Reserved seating is sold out for the intra-squad scrimmage, but there is still standing room only tickets available for $12. Tickets are available at www.GoAirForceFalcons.com.
"I'm pleased with everything I've seen so far in our defense. Everybody kind of criticized our defense last year, and I like the way our younger guys are performing right now."
-Patrick Roy on the team's defense.
"I promised one thing to myself: no more of this (superstitions). I get caught in some of them. I had so many of them, I don't want to go back."
-Roy on not doing the same superstitions that he did as a player
"Everybody is competing for a spot. You have three teams in camp, and when the puck is dropped and the scrimmages go on, you're playing for your teammates and you don't care who you are playing against."
-Paul Stastny on the scrimmages
"I thought it's been a good three days. A little choppy at times but pretty good."
-Gabriel Landeskog on training camp
"There's been a good pace. It's been physical. We got some good workouts in, a little bit of teaching; it's had a little bit of everything. I think everybody has responded as well."
-Cory Sarich on training camp
Mikael Tam – Markus Lauridsen
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