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Avon’s Ben Smith trying to earn a roster spot with Colorado Avalanche

Avon native Ben Smith, far right, is in training camp with the Colorado Avalanche trying to secure his return to the NHL. (Photo courtesy Colorado Avalanche via Facebook)

Avon native Ben Smith, far right, is in training camp with the Colorado Avalanche trying to secure his return to the NHL. (Photo courtesy Colorado Avalanche via Facebook)

AVON – Avon native Ben Smith has two goals in four exhibition games in his bid to return to the National Hockey League with the Colorado Avalanche.

The 28-year-old forward signed a one-year deal with the Avalanche in July. Smith had the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win over Dallas last week.

First-year Colorado coach Jared Bednar told the Denver Post, “I just like the way he works. He works every shift. He pays attention to the details and his complete level is strong. When you compete like that, good things will happen for you.”

Smith is trying to secure a spot on the Avalanche, whose season begins October 15 with a game against Dallas. The Avalanche reassigned three players to their San Antonio affiliate on Thursday to trim the roster to 27 and Smith is still with the big club.

After playing 75 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013-14 season and scoring 14 goals and 12 assists, Smith’s last two seasons have been a whirlwind. He has been dealt at the trading deadline twice.

Avon's Ben Smith is in his first training camp with the San Jose Sharks after four seasons with the Blackhawks.

Avon’s Ben Smith working out in Newington in August 2015.

In 2015, the Blackhawks traded Smith to the San Jose Sharks and he had two goals and three assists in the final 19 games of the regular season. Because the Sharks missed the Stanley Cup playoffs, Smith got a chance to play with the U.S. national team and helped Team USA capture a bronze medal at the World Championships.

A concussion in training camp slowed down Smith a year ago. He played just six games with the Sharks before getting sent down to San Jose’s AHL affiliate. He was traded in February to the Maple Leafs and was assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Toronto. But Smith was called back to the NHL where he played 16 games for the Maple Leafs, scoring two goals and getting four assists.

Smith had two goals and seven assists in 15 games with the Marlies in the playoffs helping the AHL squad reach the Eastern Conference finals. An unrestricted free agent, Smith signed with Colorado in July.

Smith’s NHL statistics

Regular season                   GP         G         A         Pts.
2010-11: Chicago                   6           1          0          1
2011-12: Chicago                  13          0          2          2
2012-13: Chicago                   1           0          1          1
2013-14: Chicago                  75        14        12        26
2014-15: Chicago                  61          5          4         9
2014-15: San Jose                19           2         3         5
2015-16: San Jose                 6            0         0         0
2015-16: Toronto                   16           2         4         6
Totals                                   197        27       23        50 

Playoffs                                GP         G         A         Pts.
2011: Chicago                        7            3          0          3
2013: Chicago                        1            0          0          0
2014: Chicago                        19          4                   6
Totals                                     27          7          2          9
NOTE: Chicago won the Stanley Cup in 2013. In 2014, the Blackhawks lost in the Western Conference finals.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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