The fans crammed into the bleachers and lined one side of the ice rink, waiting for the Colorado Avalanche to take the ice.

Maybe they were there to simply catch a glimpse of the Avalanche during their first official practice since the lockout was lifted.

Or maybe they filled the tiny arena on Sunday because it was a way to forget — at least for a moment — the Denver Broncos' stinging loss the day before to Baltimore that sent the city into a somber mood.

Either way, the players were sure appreciative. A little shocked even, when they were greeted to cheers as they stepped out of the locker room and onto the ice.

They expected maybe a handful of fans to show up. Just nothing like this.