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 only two games this past week, dropping their third game of the season against the Lightning on Thursday, but responding with an impressive victory over the Canucks, the second place team in the Pacific Division, on Saturday afternoon. Despite the lack of success against Tampa Bay this season, the Sabres are only four points behind the Lightning, who own the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with two games in hand.
The bright spot in the 4-1 loss against the Lightning was the highlight reel goal by top overall pick, Jack Eichel. He deked around both Lightning defensemen and ripped a shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy for Buffalo’s only goal. Eichel led all Sabres players with six shots on goal and came very close to scoring another goal on multiple occasions. Fourteen games into his NHL career, Eichel leads Buffalo with five goals and 49 shots on goal. This game served as a glimpse into what should be a bright future for Eichel and the Sabres.
Saturday’s tilt with the Canucks marked the long awaited return of Ryan Miller to the First Niagara Center. The game appeared to be heading to overtime until Rasmus Ristolainen scored his second goal of the game with 16.8 seconds to play to spoil Miller’s homecoming. The 21-year-old Finnish defenseman scored two goals in a game for the first time in his NHL career. Now in his third season with the Sabres, Ristolainen leads all Sabres defensemen with three goals and seven points. His seven points are tied for second among all Buffalo skaters.
Monday was an important day in the hockey world, as Phil Housley became the ninth player to have worn a Buffalo Sabres jersey to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Housley was the sixth overall selection in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, and played the first eight seasons of his Hall of Fame career with Buffalo. His 47 assists as an 18-year-old rookie is a team record, which still stands. Housley played the first 608 games of his career with the Sabres with 178 goals, 380 assists, and 558 points. He is widely viewed as one of the best American-born defensemen to ever play in the NHL, and helped the United States capture the World Cup of Hockey in 1996, and a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics. While this week honored the past, the current edition of the Sabres is leaving fans optimistic about the future. Buffalo is currently in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 12 points, and a 6-8-0 record.
Rochester Americans (AHL) – The Americans defeated the Binghamton Senators by a score of 3-1 in their only contest of the week on Friday night. The win was the third in a row for the Amerks as they inch closer to a playoff position in the very competitive North Division, where six of seven teams have a winning record.
25-year-old defenseman, Colby Robak scored his first goal of the season to give Rochester the lead, late in the first period. Robak played for the Amerks during his rookie season, in 2010-11, when he scored seven goals and 17 assists. His 24 points led all Rochester rookies that season. In the interim, Robak has appeared in 47 NHL games for the Panthers and Ducks, while continuing to experience success at the AHL level.
The eventual game winner was scored by rookie, Jean Dupuy, who tallied his first career professional goal. The undrafted rookie free agent leads the Amerks with six assists, and his first goal could not have come at a better time. Rochester’s third goal was scored by Jack Nevins, who is currently tied for second on the team with three goals this season. Nevins was acquired from the Canadiens last season as a part of the Torrey Mitchell trade. His three goals this year are the first of his pro career.
Former Jackal, Matt Garbowsky posted his first AHL assist of the season on the final goal of the night for the Amerks. Garbowsky scored one goal and two assists in four games with Elmira at the outset of the year, before he was recalled to Rochester. He has now played five games this season with the Americans and has recorded one assist. Fellow former Jackal, Allan McPherson has now played seven games with Rochester after scoring one goal and two assists in two games with the Jackals earlier this year. Rochester is currently tied for fifth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.545, 12 points, and a 6-5-0 record.