While the rest of the Rochester Americans boarded the bus last Thursday afternoon en route to Binghamton for a Friday night matchup with the Senators, Corey Tropp stayed behind after receiving word that his services might be needed by the parent club Buffalo Sabres.
“I was told (Thursday) morning after practice in Rochester that there was a possibility. We were scheduled to leave for Binghamton in the afternoon, but I was told to stay back and keep my phone on me,” Tropp said on Friday morning.
When it was determined on Thursday that Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta would be unavailable for four games, the 22-year old Tropp was officially recalled to make his NHL debut the following night against the Calgary Flames at First Niagara Center.
“If he was able to play, I was going to have to drive myself to Binghamton, but if he wasn’t, I was coming to Buffalo,” Tropp said. “Obviously, when I got the call it was really exciting… I called my parents first to let them know because they have been so supportive in helping me get to where I am today.
The Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan native, who expected his parents and “possibly a couple friends” to be in attendance in Buffalo for his debut, became the first member of the Amerks to earn a recall to the Sabres this season.
“It’s a dream come true to play your first NHL game. It’s something that I have worked really hard for and I am very excited,” said Tropp, who was Buffalo’s third-round selection (89th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, prior to the game against Calgary. “I am looking to just go out there and have some fun, finish my checks, and compete just like it's any other game.”
Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff joked after the morning skate on Friday, saying, “I told him I wanted him to score, I wanted him to defend very well, and I told him if he gets in a fight to throw them with both hands.”
In the contest, which the Sabres won 2-1, the youngster played eight shifts for a total of 6:19, skating on a line with Cody McCormick and Matt Ellis and finishing with one hit and one takeaway.
"I thought he was real good,” Ruff said of Tropp following the game. “His energy was excellent and that line gave us the right shifts at the right time."
Prior to being called up to the big club, Tropp had recorded four goals and three assists in 10 games with the Amerks, and at the time was tied for the team-lead in goals.
“Darcy (Regier) has been down there for a bunch of games and has asked for some feedback from the coaching staff as well,” explained Ruff. “We wanted their best available right-winger and Corey has played very well. He had a great tournament in Traverse City and I thought he was good for us during the preseason.”
The 6-foot, 195-pound winger seemed to earn more of the coach’s trust in his second game Saturday night in Ottawa, a 3-2 shootout victory for the Sabres. Tropp saw almost 10 minutes of ice time over 13 shifts and contributed three hits and one takeaway while continuing to skate with McCormick and Ellis.
“I try to bring a lot of energy and see myself as a guy who finishes my checks, competes real hard and can bring some offense, but I also want to stick to that aggressive style,” Tropp said. "You always think if you keep performing well that you might get a call-up. Coming into the season, that's a goal, try and do as well as you can to get here. I went to Rochester, stuck with it, and fortunately it worked out."