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Savoie Among Three Stars For Sabres At Prospect Challenge

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The Buffalo Sabres future was on display on Day 1 of the 2023 Prospect Challenge in a 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the HarborCenter on Friday. The club with five first-rounders (Matthew Savoie, Zach Benson, Isak Rosen, Jiri Kulich, Ryan Johnson) in the lineup struggled early according to head coach Seth Appert, but after gaining familiarity as the game evolved, the Sabres superior talent came through in the clutch.

“There are going to be mistakes, it’s the first game and they’ve been together for two days, but we can overcome mistakes if we have a collective effort,” Appert said. “We showed that we can be pretty quick in transition and getting things going in the other direction.”

Here are Buffalo’s three standouts in Game 1

Matthew Savoie  –  The Sabres top pick in 2022 had an advantage over most of the players on both clubs, playing all night with junior linemate Zach Benson. The chemistry and familiarity between the two was apparent on most shifts. Benson set up Savoie for his first of two goals, an odd shot that went off Montreal goalie Jakub Dobes and added the coup de grace with an impressive individual effort to make it 5-3 early in the third.

 

“I got a really good pass from Cederqvist cross-ice, it found me in the open ice with a lot of speed and I had one defender to beat, took a wide on him,” Savoie said. “I was really in tight there and then right after he poke-checked, it ended up right back on my stick and turned and fired.”

 

Jiri Kulich  – The 19-year-old showed off his big shot and skating ability playing up the middle between Isak Rosen and Olivier Nadeau, but Appert on a few shifts moved him to the wing to play with Benson and Savoie. Kulich‘s one-timer on the power play iced the game for Buffalo, but scoring goals is not what he has to prove in training camp. The Sabres need to see that Kulich can be effective in playing both sides of the ice, otherwise, it will mean more seasoning in Rochester.

Zach Metsa  – The 24-year-old is not in the mix for the Sabres because he is signed to an AHL contract, but the 24-year-old stepped into the Rochester lineup after winning a National Championship with Quinnipiac last April and played 13 playoff games.

“(He) was real strong on the back end, he’s a little bit older. He gives us that presence, he played pro hockey in the playoffs last year and you can feel that.”

The Sabres take on New Jersey’s prospects on Saturday. The Devils will be without Luke Hughes, who was scratched from the challenge to concentrate on the opening of training camp next week.

 

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