The IIHF’s 2013 Junior Club World Cup is currently taking place in Omsk, Russia and in the early goings of the tournament, one Buffalo Sabres prospect finds himself among the tournament’s scoring leaders.
Right wing Nicholas Baptiste, a third-round pick of the Sabres in the 2013 NHL Draft (69th overall), had an impressive showing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves in their game against Finland’s representative, HPK. While Sudbury lost 4-3, Baptiste had a hand in every Wolves goal, finishing with a goal and two assists. The Wolves are representing Canada in the tournament.
Sudbury previously lost to Dynamo Shinnik of Belarus 5-1 on Sunday.
Baptiste and the Wolves now face a must-win situation against Sweden’s Frolunda Indians on Wednesday. A victory would help get them into a tie-breaking situation to enter the medal rounds. Sudbury won the tournament in 2012.
The Dubuque Fighting Saints, the former USHL team of Sabres prospect Zemgus Girgensons, are also in the tournament, representing the United States.
The tournament is scheduled to run through Saturday.
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The NHL and the NHLPA reached an agreement last week with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee that would allow NHL players to participate in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Over the next few days, organizers from each national team will be announcing their orientation camp rosters. Team Canada and Team Russia and Team USA gave us theirs on Monday.
Ryan Miller has been invited to attend Team USA's camp at the end of August.
A few other members of the Buffalo Sabres organization have represented their countries in international play since reaching the NHL. Here are some connections between current Sabres and the national teams that qualified for the 2014 Olympic Games.
Miller received Most Valuable Player honors at the 2010 Winter Olympics and Team USA won the silver medal thanks to his strong play. He’s also appeared in the IIHF World Championship in 2002 and 2003.
Coach Ron Rolston was very involved with USA Hockey’s National Development Program before joining the Sabres and Rochester Americans. He spent seven seasons as the program’s head coach where he led the U.S. Under-18 team to three gold medals and a silver medal in four stints at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Rolston also served as head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team in both 2007 and 2009.
New assistant coach Joe Sacco served as head coach for the 2013 World Championship team and guided them to a silver medal-performance. Sacco has also worked with Team USA as both a player and a coach. He played in the 1992 Olympic Games in France and coached Team USA at both the 2009 and 2010 World Championship.
Jamie McBain played for Sacco at the World Championship in Sweden this spring. He’s a product of the U.S. development program.
Russia, Slovenia and Slovakia are also in Group A.
Thomas Vanek has represented Austria in the past, and as the most prolific hockey player from the country, it’s likely he’ll be headed to Sochi. He played for Team Austria in May for the World Championship, where he scored six points in seven games (4+2). He was also a member of the team back in 2004.
No Sabres were invited to Team Canada’s orientation for the games in Sochi.
After retiring as a player in 2009, assistant coach Teppo Numminen spent time as a scout with the Finnish National Team. He participated in four Olympic Games as a player, winning two silver medals (1988 and 2006) and a bronze (1998).
Norway is also in Group B.
Zemgus Girgensons played for Latvia at the 2013 World Championship in May, as well as the 2011 and 2012 World Junior Championship. When Buffalo selected him in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft (No. 14), he became the highest drafted Latvian ever.
Enroth backstopped his national team to the gold medal at the 2013 World Championship. He’s a candidate to back up Henrik Lundqvist in Sochi.
Tallinder played for Team Sweden in the Olympics in Vancouver.
The Czech Republic and Switzerland are also in Group C.
The schedule for the 2013-14 NHL regular season is out and that means Buffalo Sabres fans are going to be busy filling in dates on their calendars over the next few days. Or hours.
Realignment kicks in this upcoming season, meaning that the Sabres will see some new faces in the division. In addition to the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will be joining the party. And you can officially call it the Atlantic Division.
CHECK OUT THE FULL SCHEDULE HERE
The Sabres will play each divisional opponent at least four times each and the other teams within the conference three times each. They will play each team in the other conference once at home and once on the road.
Keep in mind that the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets have swapped conferences, so there will be one more game against ’Lumbus. The Blue Jackets join the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in the newly formed Metropolitan Division.
But that’s only 80 games. To make up those extra two, Buffalo has five games scheduled against both the Maple Leafs (two at home, three in Toronto) and the Bruins (three at home, two in Boston). Next year, the Sabres will play two different teams in the division an extra time.
BREAKDOWN BY MONTH
October: 15 games
November: 13 games
December: 12 games
January: 14 games
February: 6 games
March: 14 games
April: 8 games
BREAKDOWN BY DAY
Monday: 6 games
Tuesday: 17 games
Wednesday: 6 games
Thursday: 19 games
Friday: 9 games
Saturday: 17 games
Sunday: 8 games
Sets of Back-to-Back Games: 13 (Franchise-Low)
Longest Home Stand: 3 games (Five times)
Longest Stretch of Consecutive Road Games: 5 games (March 18-27)
Wednesday, Oct. 2 at Detroit – Season opener against a new division rival
Friday, Oct. 4 vs. Ottawa – Home opener
Monday, Oct. 14 vs. Minnesota – Former Sabres captain Jason Pominville will be back in town
Monday, Oct. 28 vs. Dallas – A return for another former Sabre, this time Lindy Ruff
Tuesday, Nov. 5-Friday, Nov. 8 – A three-game West Coast swing against the Sharks (Nov. 5), Kings (Nov. 7) and Ducks (Nov. 8)
Friday, Nov. 15-Saturday, Nov. 16 – A home-and-home against the Leafs, starting in Buffalo on Friday
Tuesday, Dec. 10-Thursday, Dec. 12: Two games in three nights against Ottawa, starting Tuesday in Buffalo
Thursday, Dec. 19-Saturday, Dec. 21 – Two games in three nights against the Bruins, starting Thursday in Buffalo
Tuesday, Dec. 31 at Winnipeg: New Year’s Eve game on the road against the Jets
Tuesday, Jan. 14 vs. Philadelphia – The Flyers make their first trip of the season to First Niagara Center
Thursday, Feb. 6 at Ottawa – Last game before Olympic break
Wednesday, Feb. 26 vs. Boston – First game back after Olympic break
Sunday, March 9 vs. Chicago – The Sabres host Pat Kane and the defending Stanley Cup champions
Tuesday, March 18-Thursday, March 27 – Five consecutive road games (at Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Nashville)
Sunday, April 13 vs. New York Islanders – Regular season finale
Any other games Sabres fans should be excited about?
The schedule for the 2013 NHL Prospects Tournament has been released and the Buffalo Sabres are expected to defend their title starting Thursday, Sept. 5.
The Detroit Red Wings, who are hosting the tournament at Centre ICE Arena in Traverse City, Mich., posted the tournament schedule Monday afternoon. Buffalo was announced as a participant back in April.
The Sabres’ squad of prospects will compete in the Ted Lindsay Division against the future stars of the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers. The Red Wings are in the Gordie Howe Division along with the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues.
Buffalo won the tournament in 2011, the last time it was held. Ron Rolston coached a team that included Marcus Foligno, Corey Tropp, Luke Adam, Daniel Catenacci, Mark Pysyk and Brayden McNabb. It was the first time the Sabres participated in the tournament.
For 2013, teams will play a round-robin format by facing-off against each team within their division before a crossover on the final day of the tournament. The tournament concludes with the Howe and Lindsay division winners facing off in the championship game on Monday, Sept. 9.
The tournament, entering its 15th season, has featured over 350 prospects that have gone on to play in the NHL.
During the “Blue & Gold Scrimmage” that wrapped up the Sabres’ development camp on Friday, general manager Darcy Regier noted that many of the prospects in the scrimmage will go to Traverse City. Rosters likely won’t be announced until closer to the start date.
The full tournament schedule and other information can be found on the Red Wings’ team site.
Thursday, Sept. 5
4 p.m. Buffalo vs. Columbus
Friday, Sept. 6
4 p.m. Buffalo vs. New York
Sunday, Sept. 8
4 p.m. Carolina vs. Buffalo
Monday, Sept. 9
3:30 p.m. - 7th Place Game (4th Howe vs. 4th Lindsay)
4 p.m. - 5th Place Game (3rd Howe vs. 3rd Lindsay)
7 p.m. - 3rd Place Game (2nd Howe vs. 2nd Lindsay)
7:30 p.m. - Championship (1st Howe vs. 1st Lindsay)
What you may have missed from around the division:
BUFFALO: The Sabres signed 2013 first-round draft pick Rasmus Ristolainen to a three-year, entry-level contract. Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said that the 6-foot-4, 225-pound defenseman will have a chance to compete for an NHL job this season.
Team Blue defeated Team Gold 6-3 in the 2013 "Blue & Gold Scrimmage," which pitted Sabres prospects against each other to wrap up development camp. Center Zemgus Girgensons had a goal and two assists. Right wing Nick Baptiste and center Logan Nelson each scored twice in the victory.
Sabres general manager Darcy Regier provided updates on the trade market and named Chadd Cassidy the new coach of the Rochester Americans.
BOSTON: After getting goaltender Tuukka Rask to sign a new, long-term contract Thursday, the Bruins inked center Patrice Bergeron to an eight-year extension Friday. Rask is set to be in Boston until the end of the 2020-21 season while Bergeron is under contract until 2021-22.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli also said that the Bruins are “done for now” when it comes to making any more significant off-season moves.
DETROIT: Center Darren Helm, who was limited to one game last season due to a back injury, took the ice for the first time in two months on Thursday. Helm is working to be ready for training camp in September.
FLORIDA: The Panthers signed center Jon Matsumoto and defenseman Matt Gilroy to one-year, two-way contracts.
MONTREAL: Michael McCarron, the Canadiens’ top pick in the 2013 NHL Draft (No. 25 overall), signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the organization. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound right wing is set to play for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League this season.
OTTAWA: The Senators will take on the Vancouver Canucks outdoors in the 2014 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic on March 2, 2014. The game, hosted by the Canucks at BC Place, will be the first outdoor game for both teams.
Ottawa also avoided arbitration with Erik Condra and re-signed the forward to a two-year contract. Condra was a restricted free agent.
TAMPA BAY: The Lightning signed Jonathan Drouin, their top draft pick in the 2013 NHL Draft to a three-year, entry-level contract. The 18-year-old center, picked third overall, scored 41 goals and racked up 105 points last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
TORONTO: The Maple Leafs signed forwards Joe Colborne and Troy Bodie to one-year contracts last week. Colborne spent most of last season with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
Nick Baptiste and Logan Nelson each scored twice to lead Team Blue to a 6-3 victory over Team Gold in the Buffalo Sabres’ annual Blue & Gold Scrimmage on Friday.
The scrimmage, which concluded the club’s three-day development camp, offered the Sabres coaching staff a chance to watch the organization’s prospects in a game situation.
“It was a good couple of days,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. “I was excited. Since I’ve been here, it was probably the best development camp in terms of quality of players – speed, skill, the quality of defensive corps that we have out there.”
Alex Lepkowski had a goal and an assist for Team Gold. Daniel Catenacci and J.T. Compher tallied for Team Gold as well.
| Zemgus Girgensons
“It was a fun game,” Girgensons said. “The last two periods were pretty intense with some good hits.”
CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY OF THE GAME
The two teams weren’t afraid to get physical. Defensemen like Lepkowski and Matt MacKenzie were throwing the body around early. Nikita Zadorov, Buffalo’s second first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, laid a huge hit on Brad Navin at center ice during the second period. Zadorov also collected two assists.
Nathan Lieuwen started for Team Gold and made the save of the first period, stopping Girgensons on a one-timer from inside the paint. Baptiste found Girgensons from behind the net, but Lieuwen kicked out his left pad to deny Girgrensons.
Penalty shots replaced power plays in this scrimmage and Lieuwen stopped Girgensons on the only attempt of the first period. Lepkowski scored his goal on a penalty shot late in the second period.
Team Blue skated into the locker room after the first period with a 1-0 lead after Phil Varone scored with 3:40 to play in the period. Catenacci tied it up for Team Gold at the 8:46 mark of the second period, but by the end of the period, Team Blue held a 3-2 advantage.
Team Blue came out to score three quick goals to start the third period, with Baptiste’s second of the night and Girgensons’ only tally coming seconds apart.
“It’s a great group of guys, especially I liked our [team],” Girgensons said. “We had a good grind and good skill. We put that all together and you see the score.”
The night ended with a shootout. Players from both teams got to show off their breakaway skills and Team Blue once again came away with the victory, this time by a 3-2 score. Girgensons, Eric Locke and Jonathan Parker scored for Team Blue. Justin Bailey and Chad Ruhwedel scored for Team Gold.
Bailey, a native of Buffalo, drew applause from the hometown crowd during his shootout attempt and dropped a few jaws. While walking in, he kicked the puck with his left skate to his stick and then reached over to his backhand to beat goaltender Cal Petersen.
“I struggled a little bit in the shootout in practice and I figured, why not try a move that works sometimes when I just messing around. Luckily it worked out,” Bailey said.
17 Daniel Catenacci - 25 Mikhail Grigorenko - 15 Colin Jacobs
19 Connor Hurley - 41 J.T. Compher - 22 Justin Bailey
20 Brad Navin -13 Sean Malone - 12 Christian Isackson
47-Tyler Gjurich - 45 Judd Peterson
24 Brayden McNabb - 5 Chad Ruhwedel
3 Alex Lepkowski - 4 Jerome Gauthier-Leduc
27 Kevin Czuczman - 34 Anthony Florentino
38 Eric Locke - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 20 Jonathan Parker
21 Kevin Sundher - 41 Phil Varone - 25 Logan Nelson
19 Gustav Possler - 17 Justin Kea - 72 Nick Baptiste
46 Alex Iafallo - 22 Andrew Black
31 Cal Petersen
35 Connor Knapp
2:15 - 3:30 p.m.
This year’s Buffalo Sabres development camp features two days of on-ice workouts and an intra-squad scrimmage. The final on-ice practice wrapped up Tuesday afternoon with Team Gold, featuring some Buffalo natives.
Justin Bailey, a second-round pick in 2013, Sean Malone, a sixth-round pick this year, and Alex Lepkowski of West Seneca were all on the ice together, wearing the jersey of the team they rooted for as kids.
Tyler Gjurich of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres also participated in the afternoon sessions.
Alex Iafallo of Eden, N.Y., an undrafted invitee, skated with the early group of Sabres prospects.
“Last year I watched the draft, obviously being a Sabres fan myself and you see guys like [Mikhail] Grigorenko, and [Brayden] McNabb’s here,” Bailey said. “I think it’s good to go to guys that have kind of been through this training camp before, guys who have played a few NHL games, to be able to ask them questions since they know obviously better than you do. I’ve been utilizing that to the most of my ability so far.”
Having some familiarity with the players in the camp is helpful as well.
“I have my friend J.T. [Compher] here. Justin [Bailey], as well from Buffalo,” Malone said. “That’s pretty cool and we’re going through the same experiences and having a good time so I’m enjoying it.”
For those that have been to the Sabres development camp before, the condensed schedule is welcomed. Last year, the camp was five days along and included an early morning training session with Navy SEALS.
“Thinking back, it was a good experience but it makes me cry inside a little bit,” center prospect Daniel Catenacci said with a smile.
Catenacci, in his third development camp, is working on making the transition to the pro game. He played last season with Owen Sound of the Ontario Junior Hockey League and scored three points in two games with the Rochester Americans. That taste of the American Hockey League has proved to be a good motivator.
“I just think the confidence, knowing that you can play at the pro level and do well, succeed,” he said. “I think confidence is the biggest thing and when you have that, you know you can do a lot better.”
Development camp concludes tomorrow with the Sabres Summer Fan Fest and the Blue & Gold Scrimmage. Doors to First Niagara Center open at 3 p.m.
10:30 a.m. - Noon
The early group, which will be Team Blue at the “Blue & Gold Scrimmage” on Friday, took the ice in the morning and participated in a more traditional practice. Wednesday, the early parts of the practice focused on on-ice testing and skating drills. On Thursday, however, the coaching staff put the players through breakout drills and other shooting workouts right away.
Another notable change came in the form of personnel. Center Connor Hurley, drafted in the second round of this year's draft, was skating with this group in place of 2013 fifth-round pick Gustav Possler.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo’s first pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, said that he’s still getting used to some of his new equipment, so he felt more comfortable on Thursday than on Wednesday.
“[I felt] better than yesterday, but still I have a lot of work,” Ristolainen said. “This practice was my third only of this summer so I have a lot of work to do to get into game shape.”
Another aspect of the game he’s adjusting too is the size of the rink. He’s accustomed to playing on the international-sized rinks in Finland, but is enjoying the shift to a smaller sheet of ice.
“We have a lot of bigger rinks in Finland but I like the smaller ones,” he said. “I like to play like an American style of hockey, hit hard and play a fast game. To me, it feels very good.”
While this is Ristolainen’s first development camp, it’s the fourth for defenseman Mark Pysyk. The Sabres’ first-round pick in 2010, Pysyk played in his first NHL games last season. If there’s one thing he’s learned from these development camps that he can pass on to the younger players, it’s to embrace what is available to them during this week of practice.
“We were just talking about that, just take advantage of all the stuff here,” he said. “There are NHL coaches, trainers, mental skills coach, power skating coaches. Take advantage of the resources that they have here in the Sabres organization. ”