First training camp practice opens with anticipated intensity

September 14, 2018

At the end of last season, Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley made it clear that his team was going to work hard at this year's training camp after finishing in last place in the NHL standings.

Friday marked the first practice day for the Sabres at training camp, and Housley lived up to his words.

"I think the guys worked really hard today," Housley said following practice at HarborCenter. "It was a tough go in both sessions. A lot of skating after the play, which we're trying to encourage our guys, and part of our identity is back pressure and reloading them from the offensive zone of the ice. You could see a lot of the drills the guys were bent over. We pushed them to the limit in each drill, and then we could see that the pace was going down, so we let them get some water, regain their composure and their wind. It was a tough go today, but I'm pleased with the way guys responded."

Each session of practice went for a grand total of 90 minutes, with the first 35 minutes of practice time spent at New Wave Energy Rink followed by the final 50 minutes of practice spent at KeyBank Rink of HarborCenter.

Many of the Sabres players have been back in Buffalo for several weeks now to train and be ready for camp and the start of the 2018-19 season. Housley has seen the work that his players have put in, and he was pleased with the results on the ice.

"These guys are ready to go," Housley said. "They've trained hard throughout whole summer. They know what's at stake, there's competition for places. Everybody's trying to make a good first impression."

The Sabres' group of players were split into two, with the earlier session featuring players like Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Kyle Okposo, Rasmus Ristolainen, and 2018 first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin.

Here is how the line rushes looked for the first session:

Skinner - Eichel - Okposo

Nylander - Berglund - Bailey

Olofsson (Pekar) - Larsson - Oglevie

Wilson - Criscuolo (Glotov) -Cornel

Scandella - Ristolainen

Dahlin - McCabe

Pilut - Fedun

Stephens - Redmond

Linus Ullmark, Jonas Johansson and Scott Wedgewood were all working in at goaltender throughout the session.

Dahlin spent the morning skating with Jake McCabe, who ended up playing on the right side to start training camp. Dahlin skated very well, was making his usual tape-to-tape passes with ease, and showed some good physical presence in some of the defensive drills. 

Meanwhile, Eichel was skating on a line with Jeff Skinner on his left wing and Kyle Okposo on his right wing.

Here is how the line rushes looked for the second session:

Sheary - Mittelstadt - Pominville

Smith - Sobotka - Thompson

Rodrigues - Asplund - Baptiste

Girgensons - Malone - O’Regan (Randell)

Guhle - Nelson

Beaulieu - Bogosian

Hickey - Tennyson

Porter (FW) - Borgen

Carter Hutton, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Adam Wilcox were working in as the netminders.

Missing from practice on Friday was defenseman Matt Hunwick. It has since been announced that Hunwick has an upper-body injury and will miss the beginning of training camp.

Sam Reinhart was also not on the ice for the Sabres, but he still remains without a contract.

Buffalo will take to the ice once again on Saturday at 9:45 a.m. at HarborCenter, starting with the second group of skaters. The first group from Friday will take to the ice at 11:45 a.m. Both sessions on Saturday are free and open to the public.