That's what Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff had to say about Jamie Wise, the final player invited to Development Camp this week who became the talk of Thursday's scrimmage by scoring three goals to lead Blue to a 7-3 win over Gold in front of over 5,000 fans at First Niagara Center.
And to help complete Ruff's thought, we're going with the latter.
Wise, who scored just one hat trick in 142 career OHL games, plays a grit game with some obvious ability around the net. Ruff mentioned how the six foot, 204-pounder has a "little bit of Kaleta to him", and with a firm impression made, looks to be a player that could find himself in an NHL training camp this fall with another strong showing in Friday's camp finale (closed to the public). Late risers do exist. Wise looks on his way following his breakout 31-goal season with Mississauga.
Luke Adam was credited with the game's first goal when he buried a Corey Tropp feed from in close at 10:29 of the opening frame to give Gold a 1-0 lead. Tropp was bringing his physical game throughout the scrimmage, while Adam showed some improvement with the puck in open ice and generally looked in command.
Gold's lead would hold into the second period, but not for very long, as Zemgus Girgensons scored the game's prettiest goal just 1:33 in by taking the puck down the left side, slipping to the middle and going back to the forehand (first clip below).
A Wise penalty shot goal off a nice fake gave Blue the 2-1 lead at 6:01 (:26 mark of above montage), but Dan Catenacci would even the score by scarfing up a Jerome Gauthier-Leduc rebound at 10:31 (:36).
Late in the middle frame Wise would strike for a second time, corralling a loose puck and beating Linus Ullmark short-side from the left dot to put Blue ahead 3-2 heading into the second intermission.
Sabres GM Darcy Regier spoke to the media in the second intermission. Among the topics covered, the greatest revelation was that surefire hall of famer Dominik Hasek was at the arena last month to discuss his desire to return to the NHL as a 47-year old. The Sabres honored his request to meet but later informed the highly decorated 'tender that they were comfortable with their current group.
The third period began much like the second as Blue's Jacob Lagace scored off a penalty shot in the opening minute. Former Minnesota State forward Justin Jokinen would finish an odd-man rush for Gold to cut the deficit to 4-3 but the Blues sealed the deal late with Wise's third of the night, a Fienhage slapper from the right point, and a Joel Armia empty netter.
Pesky invite Frederick Roy, a teammate of Mikhail Grigorenko's last season with the Quebec Remparts, finished the night with two assists. Small in stature but a player who clearly enjoys contact, Roy wasn't putting guys to the ice but he certainly wasn't afraid to hit the paint to make a play.
The long week of early morning workouts with Navy SEALs and on-ice drill work made for some tired legs late. Mikhail Grigorenko, still finding his wind after a long bout with mononucleosis, showed flashes all the way to the end, including a nice forehand deke in the shootout. The Grigorenko that fans saw this week was the same patient playmaker with excellent vision and hands that we watched this past season in the Q. Whether or not he has enough juice to make the Sabres out of camp remains to be seen, but he will no doubt be a compelling candidate with fully recharged batteries come fall.
The one thing to remember is that this was a summer camp and not training camp. No jobs are won but the coaching chatter is in full gear. For instance, the goaltending duo of Connor Knapp and Nathan Lieuwen will battle this fall for the primary backup spot in Rochester. Early indications suggest Knapp will have the upper hand when things get cooking.
I'll post more thoughts and audio shortly (guys like 2012 seventh-rounder Judd Peterson, for example, showed a good burst this week). In the meantime, check out Sabres.com for complete highlights and post-game a/v.