Saturday, September 8, 2007

Comments from Avs Rookie Camp Day 1

Former CC defenseman Brandon Straub, who co-captained the Tigers in 2006-07, took his first step toward a professional hockey career today at Avalanche rookie camp., held at the South Suburban Family Sports Center in Centennial.

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Straub was the biggest (edged out 19-year-old ex-Wisconsin player D Nigel Williams by 4 pounds) and among the oldest players on the ice. Only C Brett Kelly (12/01/81) - who recently signed a contract with the Avs' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters - and G Andrew Penner (12/12/82) were older.

Straub played solid defense throughout the scrimmage, but it was interesting to see how his style - Straub considers himself a "defensive defenseman" - differed from the others. His defensive partner for two periods, former Ohio State player Kevin Montgomery (left midway through last season after 17 games to play for London of the Ontario Hockey League) was quick up the ice and created a ton of offensive opportunities.

Straub's team, dressed in black jerseys with white numbers, lost 6-3 and Straub's plus/minus was even. Straub's most noticeable lapse was during a 3-on-2 situation when he failed to track forward Dan DaSilva to the weak side, resulting in a goal. But most of the time, Straub broke up streaking players' momentum or went unnoticed, which is the sign of a good defensive defenseman.

The camp is chock full of former college players, including notables such as Michigan's C T.J. Hensick (the Avalanche's no. 1 prospect, according to Hockey's Future online magazine), New Hampshire's RW Brett Hemingway and Denver's LW J.D. Corbin. Both Hemingway and Corbin, like Straub, are participating with amateur tryout contracts. The camp also had three Ivy Leaguers, Dartmouth's RW David Jones and LW T.J. Galiardi, and Cornell's C Mark McCutcheon.

It is worth noting that Hensick, who inked a three-year entry-level contract in April, was mouthing off to the officials. You would think Hensick would have learned his lesson after Michigan's national championship loss to North Dakota. To his credit, Hensick was easily the most explosive player on the ice and he was tripped a few times as he wove through defensemen. But it was a scrimmage and only two penalties were whistled, both resulting in penalty shots.

As for Straub, he has only three days left to prove his mettle to coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Michel Goulet. Welcome to the real world.

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