9/3 Recap: Fienhage blazing trail; Kassian on track

Corey Fienhage made his WHL pre-season debut on Friday, earning three assists as Kamloops rode a five-goal third period to an 8-3 victory over Chilliwack. Fienhage was a big piece of the winning surge with all three of his helpers coming at even strength in the final frame. Kevin Sundher earned a power play assist for the Bruins, who were outshot by a 49-33 margin. The two clubs will reconvene Saturday evening.

I know it's just the pre-season, and yes there's a major difference competing against 16-17-18's compared to the more experienced, stronger players of the WCHA, but it's worth noting that Fienhage's three-point effort in his first junior appearance is equal to his total output in 39 NCAA games with the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. It's particularly worth noting because it's clear that his development did not flatten despite inconsistent reps as an collegiate underclassmen.

For those wondering how Fienhage is faring his WHL transition, check out this quote from Blazer bench boss Guy Charron:

Corey Fienhage, who joined the Blazers after two seasons at the U of North Dakota, has been the talk of camp because the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, a third-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008 NHL draft, looks to be the real deal.

“There are a lot of things that have impressed me,” head coach Guy Charron said. “One is his attitude. He’s a very upbeat young man. He’s happy to be here. It hasn’t been a difficult adjustment for him towards his teammates or his teammates towards him. He’s a real team-oriented guy and that’s probably from the program he played in at North Dakota.

“He’s also very strong. We have to be excited to have a player like him in our lineup.”

Elsewhere, Riley Boychuk did not play as Portland opened their exhibition schedule by defeating Seattle, 4-1.

The OHL exhibition schedule got underway Friday, with Sabres prospects potentially seeing their first action on Sunday. Good news is emerging out of Windsor as it appears that Zack Kassian is clicking early with a creative 17-year old Russian.

Training camp is one big chemistry lab, but you don't need a university degree in the subject to see that there's something developing between Russian rookie Alex Khokhlachev and LaSalle native Zack Kassian.

Playing on a line together, the duo made the puck sing with some nifty passing in leading Team Red to a 5-1 win Thursday over Team Blue in the Windsor Spitfires' final intra-squad ga-me at the WFCU Centre.

The pair combined for seven points between them.

Kassian had two goals and an assist while Khokhlachev had two goals and a pair of helpers.

"I haven't clicked like that with anyone in my whole OHL career," Kassian said.

This is obviously good news for a Sabres organization in need of a bullying scoring presence. Kassian knows he has some things to work on while being counted on heavily for offence this season, but so far so good as the Spits head into Monday's pre-season opener.

He has looked every bit the NHL first-round pick that the Buffalo Sabres made him in the 2009 draft.

"It's huge for me," Kassian said of this season.

"Obviously, I've made a couple of big mistakes.

"But life is full of mistakes and I've learned a lot from them.

"I'm just working on being a better person and being a leader. I'm focused on what I have to do here and what I need to do to get a contract in Buffalo."

After reporting to training camp a day late due to personal reasons, Steven Shipley arrived in Owen Sound on Thursday ready to roll. Word out of camp is that the 6'2 center was nagged by some undisclosed discomfort in Friday's intrasquad scrimmage that saw him briefly retreat to the dressing room in the third period before returning for action. Shipley and 2010 first rounder Joey Hishon (COL) are expected to carry the offensive pace for the Attack this season.
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