Saturday Scrimmage Recap

This afternoon at the Sabres Development Camp, Team Blue shutout Team Gold, 5-0. Nathan Gerbe scored a pair of goals for the winners, while Andrew Orpik added a goal and an assist. Felix Schutz and Dennis Persson rounded out the scoring. The starting lineups were as follows: Blue Gerbe-Zagrapan-Gogulla Sekera-Card Eidsness Followed by: Van Guilder-Schutz-Orpik MacKenzie-Gragnani Kennedy-Hunter-Allard Myers-Southorn-Persson Eno Gold Ennis-Cepis-Whitmore Butler-Weber Enroth Other base combos: Kaleta-Irwin-Adam-Tropp Schiestel-Kostka Vatri-Scarsella-Lagace Brennan-Biega-Crawford For the most part, the defensive pairs for both teams were shuffled around with each team dressing seven. Sekera was seen with Gragnani, Weber played with Biega, Card with MacKenzie, etc. The Gold forward lines varied quite a bit as well. Paul Byron and Adam Dennis did not participate in today's scrimmage, nor did Drew Stafford. The first period started quickly, with Gold controlling the opening draw. Jacob Cepis quickly entered the zone wide, but couldn't connect on a centering pass to Tyler Ennis. A member of the CCHA All-Rookie Team with Bowling Green teammate Nick Eno, Cepis made a good overall impression today. Ennis was very noticeable, using his small frame to find angles to fit the puck towards the net. He sparked the offensive side of things nearly every shift. He seemed to take a stick in the mouth while coming across the middle early on, and slashed back at MacKenzie after taking an elbow up high at the end of the same shift. Most of the first half was back and forth, with both Jhonas Enroth and Brad Eidsness making some keys saves for their squads. Nick Eno relieved Eidsness at the midway point, and was able to shut the door on his Gold foes. The Gerbe-Zagrapan-Gogulla line maintained pressure whenever they were on the ice, but the combo of Van Guilder-Schutz-Orpik was equally impressive for Team Blue. Going 1-2 on the forecheck, the trio plugged the neutral zone and generated many offensive opportunities throughout the day. Schutz made a nice intercept early resulting in Enroth having to make two big saves. Van Guilder, a graduate of Notre Dame, often spearheaded that 1-2 and looks to be positioning himself nicely for a spot in Buffalo training camp. He hit a crashing Orpik, who cashed a one timer past a sprawling Enroth for the only goal of the first. Other notes from the first half: Tyler Myers used his long reach to break up a couple of Gold rushes in the neutral zone. Later in the half, his partner Jordon Southorn made a nice breakup on a backdoor attempt by Corey Tropp. The speedy Alex Biega showed off his cannon point shot, one timing a Nick Crawford pass into the belly of Eidsness. I don't think there's a more aware player on the ice than Biega. Eidsness was able to see most of the shots all day with his ability to stay with the puck. We continue to be impressed with his attention to detail, and technical approach to each shooter. Hopefully he received some consideration from Hockey Canada before they sent their summer invites. Crawford handled some early heat well, winning a puck battle with Gerbe after a foot race back into his own end. Aside from the elbow on Ennis, MacKenzie played a pretty solid game. I remarked yesterday about him looking much smaller than Butler, but that's not really the case. They're about the same height with different body types. Butler is broader with his mass. Andrej Sekera used his world class skating ability to bail himself of his own zone with a fine end-to-end rush. Patrick Kaleta seemed frustrated, coughing up a puck early on, then getting thwarted by Eidsness on a scoring chance down low. The Blue unit of Kennedy-Hunter-Allard had issues gelling early, but was able to get it going. Kennedy provided the best opportunity in the first half, taking an Allard pass into the low slot to slip a pretty backhander at Enroth. The following shift, the Buffalo native made another slick move to cut inside only to be stopped again. He later had a decent collision along the boards with Jacob Lagace. Overall, Kennedy had a good day carrying the puck. Allard was again working hard all day. He made me nervous once on the backcheck by throwing a bad centering pass right up the gut from behind his net, but it proved harmless. Schutz made me similarly nervous by carrying a puck right in front of his goalie, but he seemed to do it in a much cooler manner. Shortly after Eno entered the Blue crease, Luke Adam came hard down the right side and rang a wrister off his left post. At one point, Schiestel and Kostka were paired together and made clean breakouts on successive shifts. Kostka was very smooth throughout the day with good decisions and a crisp first pass, while Schiestel showed hints of a physical game in the corners and behind his net. One of the more surprising shifts in the first came when Mike Card stickhandled his way through everyone in Gold, only to fire a wrister high over Enroth's glove. Worth mentioning was Card's handling of Brady Irwin in a corner battle. End of Half: Blue 1, Gold 0 The Second Half 30:00 back on the clock. The half once again begins with Enroth versus Eidsness. Eidsness started the action making a big, cross-ice save for Team Blue. We're not sure who the shooter was unfortunately, but it drew a nice applause from the crowd. Minutes later, Southorn made a nice pinch and lobbed a thick wrist shot at Enroth, who steered it to the corner with his blocker for his first save of the second. Just 2:40 in, Vincent Scarsella tripped up Felix Schutz near center ice. Schutz would come down on the ensuing penalty shot to beat Enroth for a 2-0 Blue lead. Near the midway point, Andrew Orpik sent Dennis Persson in alone on Enroth. The defenseman went five-hole while tumbling to give Blue a 3-0 edge. Before the scrimmage was through, Nathan Gerbe would close the scoring with a pair of goals. Marek Zagrapan came gliding down the left side and made a nice feed to the rookie, who fired a short-side shot past Enroth. The Swede probably should have had that one. Later, Gerbe would corral a perfect saucer pass from Gogulla and fire a laser from the dot over Enroth's glove for the 5-0 dagger. While Gold wasn't scoring goals, the pair of Chris Butler and Mike Weber emerged as two of their better players. Butler took the puck from end-to-end several times in the frame, creating scoring chances and breaking up Blue chances before they could develop. At one point, he gave an extra rub in the corner to his pal, Gerbe. Weber, on the other hand, controlled things with key defensive plays down low. Other notes from the second half: Team Gold's best shift came near the halfway mark, when the unit of Ennis-Cepis-Tropp twice applied pressure inside of a minute. The end of the shift resulted in a 3-1 opportunity that was shut down by Eidsness. Tropp would later miss a good chance by firing high on Eno. Marc-Andre Gragnani did see one shift early as a LW with Zagrapan and Gogulla, and later drifted into forward motion while skating a defensive shift. More proof that he's wired for LW. I'm not sure if it was Brennan, Weber, or even Adam, but someone connected with a nice check on Tyler Myers after his successful pinch. Myers shook the hit off while retreating back to his post. Brennan tried to make things happen for Team Gold late, taking the puck up ice for a rush down the left side. He's paid special attention to his own end all camp, and performed very well doing so. He's physical against the rush, and played mostly mistake free hockey today. Only once did he fail to clear his end (in the face of a Van Guilder forecheck). Along that note, a early cross-ice pass inside the blueline from the steady Schiestel was nearly picked off by Van Guilder at the 6:00 mark. It would've resulted in a solid Blue chance if intercepted, but the puck was just beyond reach of the attacker. Schiestel was later unsuccessful on a penalty shot after being tripped by Kennedy. After stealing a Mike Weber headman, a frustrated J.S. Allard skated to the bench after failing a deliver a 2-1 pass. Later in the period, a puck slipped past him near the point, and he was outskated on the way back down. Right when Eno relieved Eidsness at the 15:00 mark, Kostka sprang Kaleta on a long feed. The forward slid the puck to his backhand when approaching the crease, and either lost control or fell victim to the Eno pokecheck. A frustrated Kaleta would later break a stick in disgust on his way to the bench. On the next shift, Eno would stop Ennis on a short break. Trailing 4-0, Weber fell to his belly to break up a Orpik pass to Schutz. This is one of those plays I was referring to. He would later pull the same trick, busting up a few chances by the Gerbe-Zagrapan-Gogulla line. Mike Card again demonstrated his offensive game, rushing in late to punch a shot on Enroth. On the way back down, a circling Adam kicked the puck to a pinching Kostka. Eno made a strong, point blank stop. Josh Vatri and Jacob Lagace both mucked down low and got pucks back to the point. Vatri in particular was noticeable, as he likes to get in deep and make his presence known. In the same cluster, Vincent Scarsella is fun to watch in a Marty St. Louis kind of way. Tyler Myers made a few more breakups for Team Blue in the second by using his stick to disrupt the oncoming flow. He didn't show much in the way of a physical game, but he was poised otherwise. Late in the half, he was tripped up by Vatri, but couldn't settle a hopping puck on the penalty shot. After noticing his speed and wingspan on the forecheck in the first, I didn't see much from Brady Irwin in the second. Cepis and Van Guilder were the more effective invitees this afternoon. Jhonas Enroth didn't have the strongest outing, but he did make some solid stops including a difficult tip before the buzzer. Adapting to different rink dimensions may be partially in play on both of Gerbe's goals, as each involved quick, cross-ice reactions. Final Score: Blue 5, Gold 0
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Afino
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Saturday, June 28, 2008 ×

Thanks Bakes!

Anyone look....out of place? Any "bad" moments from anyone who may see NHL time this year? All in all though, seemed like a very positive scrimmage!

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Kris Baker
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Saturday, June 28, 2008 ×

There are definitely tiers of players developing in this camp, but I need another scrimmage before digesting it all. For now, I'm trying to capture the action more than assessing skill/effort, but certain trends are coming into shape for a few of these guys.

All in all, it's a very good grouping.

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Anonymous
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Saturday, June 28, 2008 ×

Great job, very interesting to read. Keep up the great work!

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Anonymous
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Saturday, June 28, 2008 ×

devo said...

Fantastic job as always KB. Much appreciated.

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Kris Baker
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Saturday, June 28, 2008 ×

I highly implore anyone thinking about going to see these guys before camp is out to do just that. Go. There's a nice talent level building in the organization that is bound to create some roster pressure in a few short years.

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Adam
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Sunday, June 29, 2008 ×

Fantastic reporting Kris, thanks a lot.

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