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 battled the three Eastern Canadian teams this past week, and emerged with a 1-1-1 record in the three games. On Wednesday night, the Sabres outplayed the Canadiens, but ultimately lost, 3-2, in overtime. Two of the three Montreal goals were scored on deflections off of Buffalo players, while Ben Scrivens stopped 41 of 43 shots to earn the victory for the Habs. Zach Bogosian gave the Sabres an early lead on a goal, which was assisted by the returning Ryan O’Reilly. After surrendering two goals in the second period, Marcus Foligno scored a short-handed goal to help Buffalo earn a point in the game. Foligno continues to play well for the Sabres, especially against the Canadiens. He now has a career high 10 goals, and four of them have come against Montreal.
On Friday night, the Sabres may have ended any realistic chance the Ottawa Senators had at making a run at the playoffs by defeating them, 3-1, at the First Niagara Center. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board early in the first period with his twentieth goal of the season. Reinhart and Eichel are the first pair of Buffalo rookies to score 20 goals in the same season since Danny Gare and Peter McNab during the 1974-75 season, in which the Sabres went to the Stanley Cup Finals. While that is not likely to happen this year, with Reinhart and Eichel, the Sabres are in a great position for the future. Later in the contest, Nicholas Deslauriers gave the Sabres a lead, which they would never relinquish with his sixth goal of the season. Chad Johnson made 32 saves to earn the win, starting in place of an injured Robin Lehner.
Two former Jackals were on the ice during this game between the Sabres and Senators. Mike Hoffman had an assist on the lone Ottawa goal. He has 26 goals on the season, which leads the Senators. The 26-year-old, fifth round pick of the Senators from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft played four games for the Jackals during the 2010-11 campaign on his way to the NHL. Also on the ice for the Sens was former Jackal, Chris Wideman. Another draft pick from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the 26-year-old Wideman was selected by Ottawa in the fourth round. He has five goals and five assists in 55 games in his rookie season in the NHL, and played well enough to earn a contract extension from the Senators. He played in five games for the Jackals during the 2012-13 season on his journey to the National Hockey League.
As encouraging as the first two games of the week were, Buffalo was disappointed with a 4-1 loss at the hands of the league worst, Toronto Maple Leafs, on Saturday night. Brian Gionta gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Michael Nylander, and the Leafs took over the game from there. Former Orlando Solar Bear, Garret Sparks made 20 saves to earn the win for the Maple Leafs. Despite the loss, the Sabres remain in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 68 points, and a 29-34-10 record.
Rochester Americans (AHL) – The Americans had an ultimately disappointing week as well, despite a rather encouraging start. On Wednesday night, the Americans defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 3-1. It was career win number 337 for head coach, Randy Cunneyworth, which ties him with John Van Boxmeer for the franchise lead in coaching victories. Linus Ullmark continued his stretch of great play making 42 saves to earn his fourth straight victory. Cole Schnieder opened the scoring for the Amerks. He now has points in six of eight games since being acquired from Binghamton. Justin Bailey and Chad Ruhwedel also scored for Rochester en route to the victory.
Unfortunately, the positive momentum was stopped at the hands of the Binghamton Senators for the second time in less than a week. Justin Bailey scored twice in the first period to give the Amerks a 2-0 lead on Saturday night, at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. However, the Senators responded with three goals in the second period, and two more in the third on the way to a 5-3 win. It was all the more frustrating as former American, Phil Varone scored twice for the B-Sens, including the game winner. Following his NHL debut with the Sabres on Friday night, Chad Ruhwedel scored the other goal for the Americans. He now has nine goals, which leads Rochester defensemen. He has also scored six goals in March, the best goal scoring stretch of his pro career.
There were also five former Jackals on the ice for the B-Sens in the contest. Nick Tuzzolino, who had a hat trick for the Jackals on March 4, has now played 15 games for the Senators this season. Guillaume Lepine, the Jackals all-time ECHL leader in penalty minutes among defensemen, had two assists in the game, and has 13 points in 57 games for Binghamton this year. Danny Hobbs, who put up 17 goals and 18 assists for the Jackals during the 2013-14 season, registered an assist for the B-Sens. He has five points in 38 games for Binghamton this season. Chris Driedger, who played four games for the Jackals at the end of the 2013-14 season, made 32 saves to earn his sixteenth win of the season, in his first full AHL campaign. Finally, Buddy Robinson, who played one game for Elmira during the 2013-14 season had two shots on goal. He has 13 goals and nine assists for the B-Sens this year.
Finally, on Sunday, the Providence Bruins, making their first visit to Rochester in seven years, defeated the Americans, 4-1. Linus Ullmark stopped 30 of 33 shots, but only Justin Bailey could find the back of the Providence net. Bailey now has 16 goals and 20 assists in 57 games for the Americans. His 36 points lead the team, among players who have spent their entire AHL campaign with the Amerks. Bailey also earned the right to make his NHL debut this season, playing in eight games with the Buffalo Sabres. Rochester is still in fourth place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference with a points percentage of 0.516, 65 points, and a 31-28-2-1 record. The Americans are now six points behind the Portland Pirates, who currently own the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with 13 games to play.