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Colorado Avalanche forward Brandon Yip charges for the puck in a game against the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 8, 2010 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The Avs would win the game 5-2 with Yip scoring two goals. (Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com)

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Face2Face with Colorado Avalanche F Brandon Yip

24-year-old rookie adjusts to life in the big leagues after winning championship with Boston University


Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com

Colorado Avalanche forward Brandon Yip charges for the puck in a game against the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 8, 2010 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The Avs would win the game 5-2 with Yip scoring two goals.

Brandon Yip's 2009-10 stats

Position: Right wing

Born: April 25, 1985, Vancouver, B.C.

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 180 lb.

Drafted eighth round (239th overall) by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft

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Avs sign forward Brandon Yip July 22, 2009

ENGLEWOOD – On Facebook, a group called "Brandon Yip Facts" touts that back when the Colorado Avalanche rookie was in high school, "opposing teams rarely used a goalie, because they knew that all attempts to stop him are futile."


They said that "there is a Facebook group called 'Goalies in Need of Counseling'" and "96 percent of its members joined the day after playing Brandon Yip for the first time."


While overly exaggerated, the 24-year-old did his best to shed some truth to those "facts" when he scored two goals against St. Louis on Feb. 8 at the Pepsi Center. But he brushed it aside in an honestly humble manner.


"I got a couple of lucky ones," he laughed.


The rookie right winger has emerged as a pleasant surprise with the Avs, skating his way onto the team's second line before a shoulder injury against Detroit sidelined him. In 26 games, he has amassed 11 goals and seven assists, helping Colorado battle for the division lead against Vancouver – the team he grew up watching.


"Now they're (Vancouver) the public enemy number one," he said. "Definitely I grew up watching the Canucks and I loved them."


Born in Vancouver to third-generation Chinese Canadians, Yip grew up in Maple Ridge, B.C., hometown to former Boston Bruin forward Cam Neely and former Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker. He said at a young age, he learned to play hockey from his dad.


"He played hockey, nothing competitive, but he always enjoyed the sport," he said.


He said there wasn't one specific player who he looked up to growing up, rather there were several whose game he admired.


"Obviously Joe Sakic, I mean he's unbelievable," he said. "His skill, his shot, just fun to watch. I loved the way Cam Neely played. He's a big guy, power forward, liked to fight, liked to score goals."


Coming out of high school, he played two years with the Coquitlam Express in the British Columbia Hockey League where he was drafted in the eighth round by the Avs in 2004. Yip was then recruited by Boston University where he helped lead the Terriers to a national championship in 2009. The team trailed Miami (Ohio) 3-1 with less than a minute in the third period when they scored two quick goals to send the game into overtime.


"It was unbelievable – words can't really describe it still, you know?" he said. "I still get chills thinking about how we came back at the last minute and winning in overtime."


Colorado signed Yip after his graduation. He said making the adjustment to the NHL from college proved to be a big learning curve from getting used to Denver's high altitude to the speed of the pro game.


"Everyone's probably a half-step, step faster," he said. "Everyone is so good out there. We have four lines that can play and ... just adjusting to the speed took a little bit of time. Luckily, I was partnering up with (Darcy) Tucker for a while there and he taught me a lot."


Yip seemed set to make the roster during training camp, but a preseason injury delayed his debut.


"It was tough. I got injured in a fight, it was just a finger, I thought," he said. "At worst two weeks, just a finger, you can play through it. I had to have surgery."


After recovering and doing a short stint with the Lake Erie Monsters, the Avs called Yip up to the pros in December. He joined a roster loaded with first- and second-year players, but he said he has been learning from the team's veterans.


"I think it's a great balance because all the young guys have good skill and probably going to be players in the league for a long time," he said. "The veterans who have been here have been great players for a long time, so definitely learning a lot from the other guys. "


Yip is scheduled to return from a separated shoulder in the first week in April, just in time to help the team make a push for the playoffs.


"It's been pretty good here in Denver," he said.


And Yip has been been pretty good for the Avs, too.

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