by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com
IRVINE, Calif.--Logan O'Connor said following the Colorado Avalanche's opening-game win at the 2019 Anaheim Rookie Faceoff that there are a ton of leaders in the club's locker room, but only two players earned the honor of wearing captain letters on the front of their jerseys.
O'Connor donned the 'C' as the captain of the rookies while Martin Kaut sported an 'A' as an alternate in the Avs' 5-2 victory against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday at Great Park Ice. This is both players' second rookie tournament after making their debuts last year in the Vegas-hosted event.
"I have been a captain a couple of times before, so definitely been in that role before and it is a nice role to be in, but I am trying not to change anything," O'Connor said. "Just do what I do, what I bring to the team and to the table with the guys around, and make everyone feel comfortable in their own way."
For O'Connor, the captaincy comes more than a year after he was named to the same position for the University of Denver Pioneers in summer 2018. However, he forgoed his role that season after signing with the Avalanche as an undrafted college free agent weeks later.
O'Connor appeared in five games with the Avs in 2018-19 while also playing a key role with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL. The Calgary, Alberta, native finished tied for second on the Eagles in goals with 19 and was third in scoring with 42 points. He is one of two players on Colorado's roster at the rookie tournament with NHL experience, as goaltender Hunter Miska played one game last year with the Arizona Coyotes.
"Some guys this is their first rookie camp here, a couple guys it's their second or third, so it is nice for everyone to come in the room and sort of use some of us guys that have been around a little longer to bounce some things off of," O'Connor said. "We try to help as much as we can, we are all here to represent the Avalanche and try to do well."
Kaut is looking to follow O'Connor's path to the NHL after being drafted No. 16 overall by the Avalanche in 2018. He was teammates with the DU alum last season with the Eagles--his first in North America--and produced 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists).
Both forwards found the scoresheet on Saturday, as O'Connor scored what was the eventual game-winning tally while Kaut had an assist in the contest.
Defenseman Conor Timmins participated in the Avs' 3-on-3 Prospect Game in June, but Saturday marked his first "real" game in nearly 16 months.
Timmins missed the entire 2018-19 campaign while recovering from a head injury that he suffered during the Ontario Hockey League Finals with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in May 2018.
"I felt pretty good out there," Timmins said following the game. "It took a little bit of getting used to with the pace. I think overall it was a fun game to be a part of."
Timmins was slotted on Colorado's top defensive pairing with Bowen Byram and appeared comfortable skating the puck up the ice and taking and giving hits.
"I thought he did a lot of good things," said Colorado Eagles head coach Greg Cronin, who is the bench boss for the Avalanche at the tournament. "He hasn't played in a year. We told him in between periods that you could see that he was escaping traffic really quickly, and if he moves the puck quicker that the game will slow down for him.
"I was really excited to watch him. He practiced with us for most of the year and usually there is a lot of rust on kids when they are out that long, but I thought his instincts showed and they were really good."
Both Avalanche goaltenders that dressed on Saturday saw action in the contest against the Golden Knights. Hunter Miska, who has signed an AHL deal with the Eagles, started the outing and made eight saves on nine shots in 31:05 of work, while Trent Miner stopped 13-of-14 shots in 28:55 of ice time.
Miner is in his first season with the organization after being picked at No. 202 overall in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Draft. He has played the past two seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.
Adam Werner is the third netminder for Colorado at the prospect showcase and was scratched in the tournament opener.
Katie Guay joined Glen Cooke as the referees of the Avalanche-Golden Knights game and is one of four women who are officiating prospect games throughout North America this week.
Guay, who also refereed the women's tournament at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, was selected out of a group of 96 officials, 11 of whom were women, that participated in the NHL's officials exposure combine in August, according to the Associated Press.
The other women working rookie tournaments include referee Kelly Cooke in the Nashville Predators-hosted tournament and "linesmen" Kirsten Welsh and Kendall Hanley in exhibition games in Buffalo and Traverse City, Michigan, respectively.
The Avalanche continues the Rookie Faceoff on Sunday at 2 p.m. MT against the Los Angeles Kings at Great Park Ice. The contest will be streamed live for free at ColoradoAvalanche.com (blackouts apply).
It will be the first-ever meeting between Colorado and L.A. in a rookie tournament.
The Kings fell 4-1 to the host Anaheim Ducks in the late game on Saturday night.