With National Hockey League lockout still dragging on and seemingly fewer people caring, many fans have turned their attention to other leagues and tournaments to get their hockey fix. This week eyes are on the World Junior Championship wrapping up in Russia.
On Thursday, the United States faced Canada while Russia skated against Sweden for the right to play in the gold medal game, and Buffalo Sabres fans were thrilled to see a team prospect shine in both contests.
The first game, and extra credit to you if you were up at 4am watching, was the underdog Americans against Canada. The U.S. of course, is captained by Sabre prospect, defenseman Jake McCabe. McCabe had a monster morning, scoring the first two goals of the game and assisted on the third as the Americans breezed by in a shockingly easy 5-1 romp.
The three-point game outing McCabe three goals and three assists for six points for the tournament with a positive six plus/minus rating in six games played.
Rejoice, Sabres nation.
Then not long after the U.S. was through with Canada, Russia and Sweden squared off. Of course, Russia forward Mikhail Grigorenko is one of the Sabres highest rated prospects. Russia has another Sabre prospect on their roster in goalie Andrei Makarov, but he didn’t play despite a sensational performance earlier in the tournament.
Girgorenko scored a goal, his second of the tournament and is up to six points in the Championships. What makes Grigorenko’s goal sweeter is the fact that Russia was down 2-1 in the third period when he tallied.
Russia eventually fell in a shootout.
If that isn’t enough for you to feel confident about these crop of Buffalo hopefuls, there’s this. A fourth Sabre prospect in the tournament, Joel Armia is playing very well for Finland. For the tournament Amria has three goals and five assists in five games, with all three goals coming on the power play.
While the lockout continues to leave a ratchet taste in all our moves, hockey on the other side of the glove gave Sabres fans something to smile about Thursday.