Denver captain Logan O’Connor shines at Avalanche Development Camp

Photo courtesy of DenverPioneers.com

Forward Logan O’Connor turned heads Sunday at the Colorado Avalanche 3-on-3 rookie game scoring four goals

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In the past couple month’s, a lot has changed for the University of Denver Pioneers hockey club.  Their head coach Jim Montgomery made the jump to the NHL signing with the Dallas Stars, their top three leading scorers left school early to turn pro, and two of their biggest leaders in Adam Plant and Tariq Hammond have graduated.  Amidst all the change, forward Logan O’Connor continues to do what he does best to be successful; work hard.

O’Connor was named captain of the Pioneers on June 7th of this year following the announcement that David Carle had been promoted to head coach of the team.  And for anybody who watched the Pioneers the last season, putting the “C” on O’Connor’s sweater shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  He isn’t the flashiest player on the ice, but he may be the most consistent.

Known for his penalty killing and relentless forechecking, O’Connor was one of Montgomery’s favorite forwards to put out on the ice and it showed when he was out there when games were on the line.  He can also score some pretty nice goals.

Avalanche Development Camp

At the end of June, the Colorado Avalanche announced their development camp which typically runs just weeks after the NHL Draft at the Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colorado.  One of the invitees was DU captain Logan O’Connor who is an undrafted college free agent.  As such, earning an invite to an NHL development camp is an accomplishment in itself.  It speaks volumes that several Pioneers attended camps for NHL teams all over North America.

The Avs also announced the camp would feature a 3-on-3 game in Fort Collins for the prospects.  Generally, development camp consists of a week of drills concluding with a scrimmage, but this was a real treat for the fans.

As the bleachers filled at the Edora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins, fans had their eyes set on 2017 4th overall selection and rising sophomore at UMass, Cale Makar.  Other notable players included forward Shane Bowers from Boston University, forward Cam Morrison from Notre Dame, and 2018 1st round selection Martin Kaut.

But nobody expected Logan O’Connor to steal the show.

O’Connor’s first goal came in the first period when he crashed the net and roofed a rebound backhand over the goalie’s glove.  This happened on one of his first shifts of the game.  His speed was noticeable throughout the game, out-skating many of the Avs’ top prospects.

O’Connor’s second goal came when he and forward Nikolai Kovalenko were on a 2-on-1 rush in the first period.  O’Connor found a soft spot in the slot and fielded a perfect pass from Kovalenko.  He sent a one-time shot to the corner of the net beating the goaltender high stick-side.

On his third goal, O’Connor held off forward Sampo Ranta with great body position and scored five-hole on a beautiful backhand shot right in front of the net.

And lastly, the game went into a shootout despite the white team winning the 3-on-3 game by a considerable margin.  The shootout ended up going several rounds tied 1-1, but only because O’Connor scored on his attempt early.  Here he waits out the goaltender and puts a quick wrist shot past him top shelf.

Takeaways

O’Connor is in great shape and has stepped up his offensive game.  As the captain of the University of Denver Pioneers you have to be tough and lead by example, and that’s exactly what Pioneer fans are getting. In a transition year where stability is crucial, having guys like O’Connor lead the way is invaluable.

In addition to his offensive outburst, O’Connor outplayed a lot of top prospects in front of the entire Avalanche front office.  That includes Mr. Avalanche himself, Joe Sakic.  Logan O’Connor may not be done with his audition with the Avalanche.  Whether this comes in the form on the NHL club keeping their eye on him this season or an invite to training camp, he did everything he could and more to increase his chances of becoming a professional hockey player.

We’re already seeing the lasting effects that Jim Montgomery has on his players.  His mantra is “team-first,” but we’re seeing players get rewarded with success from their hard work.  In a game that only has one puck, it’s easy to be selfish but these players understand it’s a team effort.  David Carle is cut from the same cloth and will continue preaching these same values.  It should be a pleasure for fans of the Crimson & Gold to see young players from this program get these kinds of opportunities. The 2018-19 season is off to a roaring start and it’s only July.