Jack Eichel game-winner in the finale of the Buffalo Sabres Prospect Challenge has fans even more energized
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Those in attendance, were fortunate enough to witness Eichel scoring his first goal in Buffalo, against the Boston Bruins. To hype things up even more, it doubled as a game-winner, just 37 seconds before the end of overtime, in the finale of the Sabres’ Prospect Challenge.
The 2015 second overall draft pick also had an assist, as Buffalo recovered from a 2-0 deficit. The 3-2 win helped the Sabres win the tournament over the Bruins and New Jersey Devils.
Understandably, a lot of people will claim a prospect game with a crowd of 3,537 is not much to get excited about. However, with training camp just around the corner, Eichel amped up the anticipation for the 2015/16 NHL season.
Joe Yerdon of NHL.com asked the 18-year about his overtime goal: “We’re on the bench after a long shift in our own zone and the coach (Randy Cunneyworth) asked if I had anything left and I figured I could go out there and see what I could do.”
Oct 17, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Sam Reinhart (23) watches for the puck during the third period against the Florida Panthers at First Niagara Center. Florida beats Buffalo 1 to 0. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
“They make a good play on the 2-on-1 coming back our way and (goalie C.J. Motte) deflects the puck into the corner. I just tried to protect it down the ice and I was able to get a shot off and luckily it went in.”
Eichel and Reinhart appear to be developing a nice rapport, both on and off the ice (they went together to watch the Bills home opener). Cunneyworth was definitely impressed with what he saw.
The Rochester Americans coach said: “I think the poise of Sam and the ability of (Jack) to finish some of the plays, they complement each other.
“They’re guys that see each other and see the ice very well. It’s a natural pairing.”
Eichel himself, is aware of the importance of getting to know Reinhart and the rest of the team: “We’ve all become pretty familiar with each other and friendly…We all get along really well, and we all have each other’s back.
“That’s team cohesion, that’s team chemistry, that’s guys trusting each other, trusting the guy next to you. I think that’s important, and that’s the only way you’re going to win.”
As you can imagine, the Chelmsford, Massachusetts native’s teammates were also raving about him. This included Brycen Martin, who scored the tying goal against the Bruins.
Martin told Yerdon: “I don’t think I’m ever going to forget that pass. It was so perfect, he can make plays that some pros can’t.
“At such a young age, it’s such an exceptional talent. He just brings the energy everywhere…he’s a true diamond and Buffalo is going to be real happy with him in the future.”
Cunneyworth added his thoughts about the pass to set up Martin: “I think it’s the manner in which (Eichel) does it. There’s calm, there’s poise – it’s thought out beforehand.
“That’s a pass that might not make it if you don’t elevate it a little bit or find that perfect sweet spot. It’s pure ability.”
And it’s that pure ability which has sports fans in Western New York excited about the Sabres future. After Monday night, the Eichel hype train will be even more crowded.
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