News | 9/16/2013 4:48:59 PM | Rob Crean
Buffalo Sabres training camp is in full swing, and the team is coming off a 5-4 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens in its preseason opener on Sunday night. Some of the key contributors in the Buffalo victory were some of the Rochester Americans’ biggest impact players down the stretch last season when the Amerks locked up a playoff spot on the final weekend before taking on Toronto in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
First and foremost was forward Zemgus Girgensons, who scored two goals – including one shorthanded – and fired a team-high four shots on goal in Sunday’s win at Bell Centre. He also logged 19:20 of ice time, which was second-most among all Sabres forwards in the game behind only Steve Ott. Girgensons seemed to pick up right where he left off at the end of last season, when he led the Amerks with three goals in three games during the playoff series against Toronto. Girgensons, a first round draft choice by Buffalo in 2012, also had a strong showing in last week’s Traverse City NHL Prospects Tournament.
Girgensons’ linemate both at the Traverse City Tournament and during last year’s Calder Cup Playoffs, center Johan Larsson, also played in Sunday’s exhibition game at Montreal. Larsson centered the line with Girgensons and veteran winger Drew Stafford. The trio played in all situations, logging time on both the power play and penalty kill in addition to its even strength shifts. Larsson, who joined the Amerks late last season from Minnesota at the trade deadline, totaled 18:22 of ice time.
The other player who arrived in Rochester with Larsson in the Minnesota deal was goaltender Matt Hackett, who split time between the pipes on Sunday with veteran Jhonas Enroth. Hackett entered during the second period and stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced in regulation and overtime before turning aside all three Canadiens attempts during the shootout. Hackett went 3-0-0 down the stretch with Rochester last season as he helped the team secure a playoff berth.
Other players who suited up for Buffalo in Montreal that spent time in Rochester last season included Mark Pysyk, Kevin Porter, Brian Flynn, Luke Adam and Mikhail Grigorenko.
Buffalo’s preseason schedule continues Tuesday when they travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. On Thursday, the team will open up the home portion of its exhibition season when the Carolina Hurricanes visit First Niagara Center. Other preseason home games are scheduled for Sept. 21 (vs. Toronto) and Sept. 25 vs. Columbus.
Rochester’s lone home preseason game is set for Wednesday, Sept. 25 versus the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex. General admission tickets ($5) are available at the Bill Gray’s Iceplex front desk and at the Amerks front office.
Buffalo’s training camp roster was trimmed for the first time on Monday, as five players were returned to their junior clubs: forwards Justin Bailey (Kitchener, OHL), Nicholas Baptiste (Sudbury, OHL), Justin Kea (Saginaw, OHL) and Logan Nelson (Victoria, WHL), and defenseman Connor Boland (Peterborough, OHL).