If you’re like me, you’re champing so hard at the bit for NHL hockey, you’ll take it anyway you can get it.
- Preseason game featuring a roster almost entirely comprised junior players, AHL contracts, and professional tryouts? You bet!
- Radio feed because Altitude Network still refuses to broadcast perfectly viable television? Bring it on!
- Sixty minutes of hockey against the loathsome Minnesota Wild? Eh...sure.
By all accounts (and by all I mean Mark Moser and Peter McNab’s), the game got off to a wonderfully fast start with a bunch of hungry young guys flying around the ice looking to prove themselves to new Avalanche coach, Jared Bednar. There weren’t many players on tonight’s roster with a realistic shot of making the opening night roster, but more than a handful should be challenging in the coming years—and first impressions are everything.
Chris Bigras, the new and improved offensive powerhouse, got off the first real offensive chance of the game, ringing a slap shot off the post in the opening moments of the game. Minnesota then took control for much of the next ten minutes, firing a number of shots off likely AHL goalie depth, Jeremy Smith. This summer’s offseason signing deflected a good many of these attempts, but 28-year-old veteran defenseman Victor Bartley put the Wild on the board first with a blast from the point at the 11:18 mark.
After getting outshot 11-8 in the opening period, the ice would start to tilt in the Avalanche’s direction starting in the second. AHL signing Mike Sislo (“the Sislo Kid”) would even the game up for Colorado just 2:16 into the period with an assist from Troy Bourke. Veteran Rene Bourque, playing on a professional tryout, would give the Avs their first lead midway through the period on a power play, squeezing the puck past Minnesota goalie Devin Dubnyk after assists from the Eric Gelinas and Chris Bigras.
The third period was perhaps even more one-sided. Mikhail Grigorenko, wearing an ‘A’ on his jersey for the evening, extended Colorado’s lead to 3-1 just past the 14:00 mark off assists from Duncan Siemans and Rene Bourque.
Unable to score, the Wild pulled their goalie with about three minutes left in the game, but the decision would only add to their deficit. Ben Smith would take a pass from Turner Elson and fire a wrister into the empty net for Colorado’s fourth and final goal of the evening.
The Avalanche will play a very different looking roster tomorrow night against the Dallas Stars beginning at 7:00 PM at the Pepsi Center.