Despite stellar goaltending, the Sabres crumble late in the third period to close out the Prospect Challenge at Harbor Center.
The Sabres young guns dropped their final game of the Prospect Challenge to the Pittsburgh Penguins, by a score of 5-3. In another back-and-forth affair, the two teams entered the third period deadlocked at three. The Sabres have been tied after two periods in every game of the tournament.
With just over ten minutes to go in the third period, the Penguins youngsters were able to capitalize on an odd-man rush to beat Jonas Johansson. While it might appear by the final score that Johansson had a rough night, he actually saved 44 of 48 shots faced (Pittsburgh’s fifth goal came on the empty net). In a game where a young goalie might falter under such a barrage of shots, the 21-year-old showed that he is indeed ready to back-up Linus Ullmark in Rochester this season.
The biggest story tonight was the performance of blue-chip defensive prospect Brendan Guhle. The 20-year-old Edmonton native contributed on all three Sabres’ goals, registering a goal and two primary assists on the evening. Guhle has acquitted himself well in each game of the Prospect Challenge and has re-ignited fans excitement toward him as a prospect who is very close to playing at an NHL level. While most expect that Jason Botterill will elect to start Guhle with the Amerks, don’t be surprised if he is the first defensive call-up when injury strikes the Sabres’ roster.
Veteran prospect Justin Bailey turned another solid game, scoring the Sabres second goal of the evening. Fans came into the tournament expecting one of the older prospects like Bailey, Nic Baptise, Hudson Fasching and C.J. Smith to distinguish themselves from the pack. A solid argument can be made for Bailey in this regard, but it is difficult to ignore the six-point performance Smith put together in the three game series. Both wingers looked to be a cut above the competition, and will likely be the favorites to secure the final right wing slot on the Sabres’ roster.
Cliff Pu made another appearance on the score sheet tonight, providing the primary assist on Brendan Guhle’s power-play tally. Of the younger prospects present at the event, the 19-year-old Pu has been the most impressive. An immediate fan favorite, the Richmond Hill native never once looked out of place playing against older, and more experienced opponents. After one more season in the OHL with the London Knights, Pu is almost a lock to play for the Rochester Amerks in 2018-19’.
Though he didn’t appear on the scoresheet, 2016 seventh round draft pick Vasily Glotov put on his third solid performance in a row. With excellent two-way and special teams ability, Glotov may just end up being a steal, and Tim Murray’s final parting gift to the blue and gold.
The Sabres will now being training camp. Players like Guhle, Bailey, Baptiste, Fasching and Smith will all be present, though most of them will start the year in Rochester.
The next Sabres game will be on September 18th when they kick-off the pre-season against the Carolina Hurricanes at KeyBank Center. Puck drop is at 7PM.