I took a road trip down the 490 last night to take in my annual holiday Rochester Americans game. Had to take in some Dinosaur Bar-B-Que first, of course.
They didn’t really look all that impressive early on, depsite a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission but played a strong second and coasted in the third to pull out a 4-1 victory.
Marek Zagrapan registered two goals and an assist and might just be the real deal when he gets his chance in the NHL. Zags does so many things well. He’s a great skater, has arguably the best set of hands on the team and even finishes his checks. His assist came when he hit Peter Aston for a breakaway as he skated out of the penalty box. He’s got great vision and has the potential to be a star when he’s ready.
Speaking of finishing checks, Pat Kaleta is a missile. He just takes runs at everyone and everything. If he’s going to want a job in the NHL, he’s going to have to learn to be very responsible in his own end, and he’s getting the opportunity to improve in that area by playing on the penalty kill. He took a cheap shot late in the third, and although he didn’t play another shift, he didn’t go to the locker room either. Got treatment on the ice, skated on his own to the bench and just sat down. Kaleta’s a warrior. If he ever makes the Sabres, he’s going to be one of those guys that you either love or have to pretend to love if you don’t want your fanhood questioned.
Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber showed why they are Rochester’s top defensive pairing. Sekera looks great, but not quite ready to handle the NHL full-time. Weber is big and mean. I personally liked what I saw from him in his brief stint with the Sabres and he can only get better. Both players should make strong cases as to why they should be in the NHL out of training camp next fall.
In net was Panthers product Tyler Plante. He’s got the skills and fundamentals to make it to the NHL but I’m not sure how far he’s going to go as long as his mask has Ricky Bobby and Chazz Michael Michaels on it.
It’s a shame that when I head out there next year, there won’t be any Sabres on the roster. Maybe a second road trip to wherever that may be.