TEAM BLUE EARNS 6-3 WIN OVER TEAM GOLD ON FINAL DAY OF SABRES DEVELOPMENT CAMPNews | 7/12/2013 7:09:30 PM | ROCHESTER AMERICANS
The Buffalo Sabres wrapped up their 2013 summer Development Camp Friday afternoon with the highly anticipated Blue-Gold intrasquad scrimmage at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Approximately 4,500 hockey-starved fans made their way to the downtown hockey barn to watch Team Blue claim a 6-3 win over Team Gold in what was the city’s first taste of NHL hockey since the curtain fell on the 2012-13 season this past spring.
The event marked the completion of Buffalo’s three-day camp, which hosted 40 young Sabres prospects, including 13 players who spent time with the Rochester Americans during the 2012-13 season. The camp, designed to introduce prospective players the fundamental ideas of the Sabres’ playing system and expose them to the conditioning programs of an NHL player, also featured each of the Sabres’ 2013 draft picks from last month’s NHL Draft in New Jersey, including first-round selections Rasmus Ristolainen (8th overall) and Nikita Zadorov (16th overall), a pair of highly touted defensemen who were certainly at the forefront of the Sabres coaching staff and management this week.
Forward Zemgus Girgensons, who had an impressive rookie campaign in Rochester last season, registered a game-high three points by scoring a goal and adding two assists in his first time back on the ice since a productive postseason that saw the Riga, Latvia, native lead the Amerks with three goals during the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Phil Varone, who skated with the Amerks each of the past two seasons, got things going for Team Blue late in the first period when he snapped a shot high over Nathan Lieuwen’s shoulder from the right face-off dot. Zadorov, Buffalo’s 16th overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft, made his way through the Gold defense and left the puck for Varone, who drew Lieuwen out of his crease before picking the upper corner to give Blue a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Team Gold knotted the affair at 8:46 of the second period as Dan Catenacci, who made his professional debut with the Amerks last season, beat Cal Petersen with a wrist shot from the left half-wall to make it 1-1. After gaining entry into the offensive zone, Catenacci moved off the near boards, and using the defenseman as a screen, put a wrist shot under the crossbar past Petersen. Defenseman Alex Lepkowski, who signed an American Hockey League contract with the Amerks on Day One of camp, earned the lone assist on the play.
Team Blue took a two-goal cushion with back-to-back tallies, beginning with a spectacular individual effort from Logan Nelson, who countered just under a minute later to restore the lead. Nelson, skating down along the right boards, darted by one defender and eluded the poke-check of another before moving into the low slot, where he slipped a nifty backhander past a Andrey Makarov for the go-ahead goal.
Minutes later, Girgensons jumped on a loose puck in front of Makarov and handcuffed the goaltender with a back-door pass to Nicholas Baptiste, who slammed it home to put Team Blue up 3-1 with 2:57 left to play in the middle frame.
Lepkowski brought the Gold prospects back to within one late in period as he converted on his penalty shot opportunity, beating Petersen with a quick deke to the backhand and stuffing the puck just inside the far post to make it a 3-2 game.
Team Blue went on a three-goal run to start the third period, beginning with Baptiste’s second of the game 5:48 in when Girgensons found him all alone at the top of the crease for the east tap-in. Girgensons then converted a pass from Andrew Black, the son of Sabres team president Ted Black, before Nelson took an offer from Jonathan Parker and sent it past Makarov for his second of the contest, increasing Blue’s lead to 6-2.
J.T. Compher cut Gold’s deficit in half with 4:13 remaining in the game when he converted a Justin Bailey drop pass. Bailey beat his defender to the outside and drew Petersen out of his crease before sliding a pass through the slot to Compher, who left his post at the blueline and buried it home to make it 6-3.
Immediately following the game, the fans were treated to a full-team shootout, where Team Blue earned the sweep over Team Gold with a 3-2 win in the skills competition on Parker’s game-winner.
*Played with the Amerks last season