The Buffalo Jr. Sabres kicked off their return to the OJHL with the start of training camp on August 21st. As the Jr. Sabres have been on hiatus from the OJHL since the 2019-2020 season the team is a whole new crop of players. The team spent the week working both on and off the ice getting the team prepared for what it will take to compete this season in the OJHL. When asked for his thoughts on the first week of training camp Jr. Sabres General Manager and Head Coach Wallace said, “I like how the group is coming together on and off the ice. I thought we put in a good week of work and will need to continue to do so.”
The week ended on Saturday August 26th as the Jr. Sabres headed across the border to take on the Niagara Falls Canucks in preseason action. 17-year-old Rochester native Aiden McKenna got the start in net for the Jr. Sabres. McKenna had a solid showing as he blanked the Canucks through the first half of the game. The first period remained quiet as each team took a penalty a piece as they felt each other out.
The Jr. Sabres kicked it up a notch as the second period got underway as 16-year-old Buffalo native Haeden Ellis got the Jr. Sabres on the board, with an assist from Beckett Hinschliff. From there the second period was all Jr. Sabres as they got two more goals past Canucks goalie Avery Alves. Joshua Przystal put the Jr. Sabres second goal in the back of the net with assists from Michael Kull and Camden Bowman. Gavin Klaassen put number three on the board for the Jr. Sabres with an assist from Ellis who got his second point of the game. 18-year-old Williston, ND native Leif Ekblad took over in net for the Jr. Sabres halfway through the period and kept the Canucks off the board through the end of the second.
The Jr. Sabres went into the third period holding a three-goal lead having kept the Canucks off the board. McKenna returned to the net for the Jr. Sabres as Ekblad dealt with an equipment issue. The Jr. Sabres would find that the Canucks weren’t ready to give up as they put one in the back of the net. The Jr. Sabres didn’t take the Canucks attempt at a comeback laying down as just 28-seconds later Ellis put up his second goal of the day on the board with assists from Klaassen and Alex Perreault. McKenna wasn’t letting the Canucks put another one past him as he kept them off the board for the remainder of the game. The Jr. Sabres held on to finish out the game with a 4-1 victory over the Canucks in their first preseason action.
The game marked the first time the Jr. Sabres have participated in OJHL game action since the early end to the 2019-2020 season. On their return to the OJHL action General Manager and Head Coach Sean Wallace said, “Preseason or not it was exciting for us to compete again back in the OJHL. I thought our group showed that with a lot of energy for three periods. We have work to do to clean things up, but it was a good start. Looking forward to heading to the Cottage Cup this week.”
Next up for the Jr. Sabres is a trip back across the border to participate in the Cottage Cup, where they will take on the Leamington Flyers, Jungadler Mannheim, and Collingwood Blues.