To kick off the 2022 rookie tournament hosted by the San Jose Sharks it was the Colorado Avalanche who scored a late third period goal to defeat the LA Kings 3-2.
The Avalanche pretty much put out their ideal lineup for game one with only prospects Nate Clurman and Ivan Zhigalov taking a seat for this one. The Kings brought an experienced group headlined by their top prospects Quinton Byfield and Brandt Clarke.
First chance to watch some Avalanche Hockey!— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) September 16, 2022
Tune in: https://t.co/XtnnunJcDV#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/DM3mwcZVzw
After a slow start which saw the Kings get on the board first from Francesco Pinelli at 11:05 the Avalanche turned up the heat and pressured their way into turning a 8-4 shot deficit into 13-10 in their favor by the end of the period. During that time the rookies in burgundy also found the scoresheet twice. First on a beautiful high slot tip from Oskar Olausson at 14:41.
OSKAR#EaglesCountry pic.twitter.com/RMMnKUFmN1— Colorado Eagles (@ColoradoEagles) September 16, 2022
Then just 23 seconds later Sampo Ranta held on to the puck and created space for himself to find a shooting lane and get the puck past King’s goaltender Jacob Ingham.
AND Sampo! Keep it rollin boys #EaglesCountry pic.twitter.com/rEnbQZdyTZ— Colorado Eagles (@ColoradoEagles) September 16, 2022
The Avalanche picked up where they left off in the second period by keeping the momentum going. They drew an early penalty, had some good looks on the power play and then didn’t give up the puck once the penalty expired before they drew another one. Unfortunately the team just couldn’t find paydirt and the Kings started receiving power plays of their own. They scored to tie the game at two at 10:16 from Taylor Ward on one of those aforementioned power plays.
In the final frame it was more of the same, penalties and trading chances. Justus Annunen stood tall and gave the Avalanche a chance with several good stops. The hero ultimately was Ben Meyers who exited the penalty box and then positioned himself net front to tip in the game winning goal at 16:07. The Avalanche rookies were not able to capitalize on an open Kings net and the final score was 3-2 for Colorado.
Ben Meyers, former @GopherHockey standout, puts the Avalanche ahead 3-2 in the third period with this savvy tip-in at the net. He’s got a real chance to earn a roster spot this season. pic.twitter.com/fgLOkaImso— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) September 16, 2022
Considering the Avalanche roster was half invites and AHL contracted players the team played a good cohesive team game without an obvious drop off after the big names. All of those top prospects each had some nice moments as well and it was good to see each of Olausson, Ranta and Meyers hit the back of the net if nothing else but to build confidence heading into main camp next week.
Defensemen Nolan Orzek and Olivier Boutin handled the main offensive duties from the back end and each picked up an assist. They fit the Avalanche system well and as both invited players could see themselves get more time in front of Avalanche brass in hopes to earn a contract.
The second game for the Avalanche is against host San Jose at 8 p.m. MT on Saturday, September 17th.