Rookie forward Brian Flynn called the 2012-13 season a “wild year” for him personally, and it’s no surprise. He began the year as a healthy scratch in the Rochester Americans season opener, but by the time it was over, he had scored six goals in 26 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres.
VIDEO: BRIAN FLYNN'S YEAR-END INTERVIEW
VIDEO: HIGHLIGHTS FROM FLYNN'S HAT TRICK VS. ALBANY
When the American Hockey League season began in October, the Amerks’ roster included the likes of Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno and Corey Tropp, players who likely would have started the year in Buffalo if not for the NHL lockout. As a result, Flynn found himself as the odd man out on opening night. After an unfortunate injury to Tropp in that night’s 6-5 shootout win over the Syracuse Crunch, Flynn was inserted into the lineup the following day in Toronto and never looked back.
“I started the season the first game as a scratch here in Rochester, so at that point I never thought I would play 26 games in the NHL,” Flynn said. “I think some hard work and the coaching staff and teammates were great for me. I feel like I developed a lot this year, so that makes me excited for next year and hopefully I can make some improvements.”
The undrafted free agent signee out of the University of Maine originally joined the Amerks late in the 2011-12 campaign and picked up one assist in five games. After making his 2012-13 season debut with Rochester on Oct. 13, it took him a few games to get his feet wet. He scored his first professional goal on Oct. 19 against Grand Rapids. After the four scoreless games that followed to close out the month, Flynn then went on an impressive run that established him as a top offensive prospect.
Flynn compiled a nine-game point streak to begin the month of November, recording 15 points on seven goals and eight assists in that span. It marked the longest point streak by an Amerk in three years and the fourth-longest in the AHL during the 2012-13 campaign. Included in Flynn’s point streak was his first career hat trick, which came in a 5-2 win over Albany on Nov. 23 in front of nearly 9,000 fans at The Blue Cross Arena.
After his streak, Flynn got hot again at the turn of the New Year, posting 12 points in a 13-game span starting in late December and leading up to the AHL All-Star break. Then, after a brief injury absence in February, the native of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, received the call that would make his lifelong dream a reality, as he joined the Sabres and made his NHL debut on March 2 against the New Jersey Devils.
“To make it up there was obviously a dream that I had had,” Flynn said.
Flynn’s first opportunity in The Show proved to be a productive one. In 26 games, he registered six goals, five assists and tied for the team-lead with a +6 rating.
Once the NHL regular season ended, Flynn re-joined the Amerks for the playoff series against Toronto. While the series did not go the way Flynn and his teammates would have liked, there was plenty to build off of heading into next year.
“I have confidence, I think I have always had confidence in myself,” Flynn said. “It definitely helps when you play up there and feel like you belong.”