After Saturday’s ugly loss to the San Jose rookies, the Colorado Avalanche were looking to get back in the win column and leave the tournament with some positives heading into the main training camp. It was a tall order with an even younger lineup than the previous game with Oskar Olausson and Alex Beaucage drawing back in but all the other NHL-contracted forwards were given the day off in this contest against the Arizona Coyotes prospects.
The first period was a lot quieter than in previous games, perhaps because of the early start or because the Arizona Coyotes were dressing a lighter lineup themselves. The game had a junior hockey feel with a very loose structure and few completed passes. There was no score in that first frame but the Avs rookies held the shot advantage and drew a couple of power plays.
The Avalanche got on the board in the second period when Alex Beaucage finally converted the first power-play goal at 3:20 for the burgundy and blue. Beaucage hit the puck off the glove of the Coyotes netminder with the great shot that he possesses. Danila Zhuravlyov picked up his first assist on the play as well.
The Avalanche were not done in the period with invitee Brady Stonehouse receiving a nice pass in the neutral zone from Cam Wright and sniping the team’s second goal into the back of the net at 9:49. By the end of the second period, the Avalanche had compiled a 25-12 shot advantage to go along with the 2-0 lead.
For the third period, Olausson wanted to put his own highlight on the board with a beautiful shot from the right circle and on a nice pass from invite defenseman Nolan Orzeck. Arizona decided to pull the goaltender with more than three minutes to go and Stonehouse converted for his second goal of the contest after several players took a few shots at the open cage. The Avalanche sealed the 4-0 victory and 20-save shutout for their netminder Ivan Zhigalov. The squad finished with a respectable 2-1 record in the tournament.
Despite the win, there isn’t much to take away from this game given the low competitive quality. It’s always a positive seeing both highly touted prospects Beaucage and Olausson for their shot get on the board. Also, the newest, youngest, and rawest goaltender in Ivan Zhigalov had a good first showing in an Avalanche uniform which should help build confidence. He wasn’t tested much but made the saves as needed and posted the shutout.
The Avalanche did a much better job staying out of the box with only two penalties taken and one in the dying seconds of the game. Arizona wasn’t playing very aggressively but discipline had been an issue in the first two games and it was good to see the issue corrected.
The rookies head home to join the rest of the Avalanche organization for main training camp which is expected to kick off on Thursday, September 22. The season really kicks off from here on out with the first preseason games just a few days later on Sunday, September 25 with a split squad against the Minnesota Wild in Minneapolis and at home against the Vegas Golden Knights.