As the ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and the AHL's Rochester Americans, the Jackals are tasked with developing prospects throughout the organization. The Road to the Show provides details on how those prospects are progressing.
Buffalo Sabres (NHL) – The Sabres played their final game before the All-Star break against the Ottawa Senators, a 3-2 victory, which snapped a three game losing streak. Jack Eichel scored twice in the victory. He now has 16 goals on the season, only one behind Buffalo’s All-Star, Ryan O’Reilly. At age 19, the Sabres top pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft continues to impress in his rookie campaign. He is second among NHL rookies with 16 goals and 34 points. As a result of his back-to-back multi-point games, Eichel was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, for the week ending on January 31.
Almost as important as Eichel’s continued development, was Robin Lehner’s first victory as a Sabre. Lehner made 34 saves against his former team, to earn his long anticipated first victory as a Sabre. It was all the sweeter for Lehner, as the Sens were also the team against whom he was injured in the season opener.
With the Sabres lone game of the week coming against the Ottawa Senators, it seems a perfect time to look at two former Jackals, who are making a name for themselves with Ottawa. Mike Hoffman played four games for the Jackals in the 2010-2011 season. He recorded three assists while playing for Elmira. He made his NHL debut with Ottawa in 2011-12 and became a regular during the 2014-15 season. This year, the former Jackal has a team-leading 22 goals and 17 assists in 46 games for the Senators.
Another Senator whose path to the NHL travelled through Elmira is Chris Wideman. Wideman played five games for the Jackals during the 2012-13 season, where he recorded five assists, including a three assist night on October 20, against Wheeling. Wideman spent the last three seasons working his way up the organization playing in Binghamton, and he finally made his NHL debut this season, on October 17, against Nashville. In 35 games for Ottawa, Wideman has four goals, including two game winners, and one assist.
On Sunday in Nashville, Ryan O’Reilly represented the Sabres at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. He still leads Buffalo with 17 goals, 23 assists, and 40 points. He recorded one assist as the Atlantic Division defeated the Metropolitan Division in the semifinal however, the Atlantic Division ultimately fell to the Pacific Division in the final in a 1-0 goaltending duel. Coming out of the All-Star break, the Sabres are in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 44 points, and a 20-26-4 record.
Rochester Americans (AHL) – The Americans played three games last week before the AHL’s All-Star festivities took place in nearby Syracuse. On Wednesday, the Amerks won their third game in a row, in exciting, come from behind fashion. Syracuse had four separate leads that Rochester was able to overcome in a thrilling 6-5 win, in overtime. Phil Varone, who had recently spent time with the Sabres, had his best game of the season, recording two goals and two assists, including the overtime game winner. It was his second four-point night of the month. Varone’s 12 goals continue to lead the team. Matt Donovan, Cal O’Reilly, Evan Rodrigues, and Dan Catenacci also contributed multi-point games for the Amerks.
Following a huge character win, Rochester’s inconsistency reared up again, as the Americans lost two straight to Binghamton and Utica to head into the All-Star break. On Friday, the Americans lost 5-2 against the Senators. Two recent Buffalo call-ups, Tim Schaller and Cal O’Reilly scored for the Americans. Former Jackal, Chris Driedger made 32 saves to earn the victory for the B-Sens. Driedger played four games for Elmira at the end of the 2013-14 season. He has appeared in two games for Ottawa, while spending most of this season with Binghamton, with an 11-10-1 record, 3.08 goals-against-average, and .901 save percentage.
In addition to Dreidger, Binghamton also boasts a number of other former Jackal players. Defenseman, Guillaume Lepine played for Elmira for two full seasons, 2008-09 and 2009-10, with three goals and 15 assists in 132 games. Lepine has played 36 games for the B-Sens this season with three goals and six assists, including a goal on Friday night. Forward, Nick Tuzzolino played his tenth game of the season for Binghamton on Friday night. He played 59 games for the Jackals during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, with two goals and 21 assists. Finally, Buddy Robinson, who played one game for the Jackals during the 2013-14 season, has played 34 games for Binghamton with 8 goals and 5 assists.
On Saturday, the Amerks dropped a 4-2 decision to the Utica Comets. Matt Prapavessis scored his first AHL goal, while Justin Bailey also scored for the Amerks. Jackals’ alum, Spiro Goulakos played in all three games for the Amerks this week, registering one shot on goal and two penalty minutes in the three contests. He is still looking for his first AHL point. In 32 games for the Jackals, Goulakos has five goals and 14 assists.
Yesterday, in Syracuse, Cal O’Reilly represented the Americans at the AHL All-Star Game. O’Reilly leads the Amerks with 21 assists and 26 points, while also registering one assist for the Sabres in five games with Buffalo this season. The North Division went 1-2 in three mini-games, and O’Reilly failed to register a point. Following the All-Star weekend, Rochester is still in sixth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.500, 45 points, and a 21-21-2-1 record.