Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 11:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Sabres win championship in Traverse City debut

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Buffalo Sabres certainly made their initial appearance in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament one to remember.

In the process, they also got the best of their New York neighbor, as Marcus Foligno scored a pair of goals to lead the Sabres to a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers in the championship match on Wednesday at Center ICE Arena.

The Sabres become the fifth different team to win the prospect tournament in the last five years.

"When you make improvements and have new additions to the organization with rookies and bunch of guys who haven't made the NHL yet, and go into a tournament and pull a championship, it's exciting for the organization and exciting what's to come in the future for the Sabres," Foligno told

Indeed, the Sabres outscored the opposition, 9-1, in the third period of their three victories in the five-day tournament en route to winning the trophy. In their only loss of the tournament, a 5-2 setback to Detroit on Tuesday, the Sabres were outscored, 3-0, in the final period.

"The third period was a focus of ours (against New York)," Sabres' prospects coach Ron Rolston said. "On Tuesday, that was a change and we wanted to get back to that (Wednesday). We just want to make sure that our guys were playing the right way and paying attention to details. We were able to make three strong finishes on those last three goals."

Corey Tropp's goal 1:28 into the third snapped a 2-2 tie before Daniel Catenacci connected at 15:00 to give Buffalo (3-1-0) a 4-2 cushion. Foligno then tacked on his second of the game when he drove home a shot off a breakaway after taking a pass from Zack Kassian at 17:47 to close out the scoring.

"It's weird … this whole tournament, we were a third period team," Foligno said. "Besides the Detroit loss, I think we all knew we had a little bit more in the tank (in the third) and we had 20 minutes left in this tournament to leave it on the ice. There was a lot of positive energy between intermissions and Rolston got us to work."

Foligno, who finished the tournament with 3 goals and 2 assists, was happy to chip in on the score sheet.

"It's always fun to score and help out with the points, but at the same time you want to do your job and do your role," he said. "I'm glad I had those opportunities to put the puck in the net."

Luke Adam had a goal and one assist and goalie Nathan Lieuwen made 21 saves in the triumph. The Rangers (2-1-1) received goals by J.T. Miller and Ryan Bourque.

"Our boys were resilient," Rolston said. "They worked really hard and as the tournament progressed, they knew what we had to do to be effective and have success. You felt it on the bench; we had a lot of energy and guys had good communication in terms of how we needed to play, so that was good to see."

Buffalo's top line of Luke Adam centering Foligno and Kassian proved to be quite a handful throughout the tournament. In Buffalo's loss to the Red Wings, Adam was a healthy scratch.

"Luke Adam is a great player and pretty good with the puck, and he has a great shot," Foligno said. "Kassian has a big body down low. We create space for each other and are all big guys and when we're in the offensive zone, it's tough for the opponents to kind of keep up with our pace."

Kassian agreed.

"I think we're three big bodies that like to play down low and that really favored us and we were moving it really good to find openings," Kassian said. "Luke has that great shot, so if he's in the slot you just give him the puck … it's going to be a goal more so than not."

Many of the Sabres' prospects are now looking forward to the start of training camp on Friday, including Kassian, Adam, Foligno and defensemen Mark Pysyk and Brayden McNabb.

"My goal is to play as many exhibition games as I can and do as well as I can," Foligno said. "I want to continue this strong effort I had in Traverse right through main camp. It'll be fun with all the guys and to get to play with pros."

Kassian feels Traverse City has certainly given the players one leg up entering main camp.

"Everyone in there is in game shape, ready for main camp," he said. "For me, personally, I hope to get in some exhibition games and play well."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 1:01 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Rangers' Miller ready to face former coach in TC final

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Don't think for a second that New York Rangers prospect J.T. Miller doesn't know who his opposing coach will be when his club battles the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday in the championship game of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

"Yeah, that's Ron Rolston, my coach for two years at the NTDP (National Team Development Program)," Miller told

The most decorated head coach in NTDP history left after seven years to become the coach of the Rochester Americans, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, in July. He's coaching Buffalo's prospects in the tournament this week. The Rangers and Sabres will square of in the tournament final here at Center ICE Arena at 7 p.m. ET.

Rolston guided his teams to five medals and multiple tournament championships in international competition. He is the only coach in U.S. history to win three gold medals in the Under-18 World Championship (2005, 2009, 2011). His team also captured a silver medal in the 2007 U18 World Championship.  Rolston's teams never missed a championship game in either of the two major NTDP tournaments -- the World U18 Championship and the World U17 Hockey Challenge.

Miller, who was drafted 15th overall by the Rangers in June, knows his team will have their work cut out for them.

"It's going to be great playing against him … it's about time," Miller said. "He's taught me a lot that I know, so I'm going to use what he taught me against him and hopefully it works out. I'm sure he has some really tough defensive systems up his sleeve, so it should be a good game."

The Rangers won their only other trip to the Traverse City championship game in 2007, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-1, behind the play of Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Michael Sauer, and Marc Staal. This is the first year Buffalo is competing in Traverse City.

Miller, who passed on a scholarship to the University of North Dakota to sign with the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers for the 2011-12 season, skated in 48 games with the USNTDP U18 team this past season. He produced 11 goals, 37 points and 80 penalty minutes.

"He's a really good hockey player, a lot of tools and a bright future," Rolston praised. "He's come a long way in the two years I had him as far as maturity. This will be his next step, getting with an organization and working with their leadership to continue his maturity and development. He's strong and can skate, plays hard. The Rangers have a lot there to work with."

Miller, from East Palestine, Ohio, led Team USA in scoring with 13 points in six tournament contests en route to capturing the gold medal at the 2011 U18 World Junior Championship in Germany. He tied for third among all tournament skaters in points, fourth in assists (9), sixth in goals (4), and seventh with a plus-8 rating.

In addition to Miller, the Rangers' prospects have been led by defensemen Tim Erixon (1 goal, 3 assists), Dylan McIlrath and Samuel Noreau and forwards Shane McColgan (2 goals, 2 assists), Ryan Bourque (3 goals), Christian Thomas (1 goal, 3 assists), Blake Parlett (5 assists) and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (2 goals, 3 assists). Goalies Jason Missiaen (1-0-1, 2.94 goals-against average, .898 save percentage) and Scott Stajcer (1-0-0, 2.00 GAA, .929 save percentage) have performed well.

The 6-1, 200-pound Miller appeared in 95 career games over two seasons in the United States Hockey League with the USNTDP, registering 26 goals and 42 assists for 68 points, along with 159 penalty minutes.

"I think the pace (of the tournament) is great and the physicality that goes with it just takes it to a whole new level," Miller said. "I'm just trying to get used to it every game and trying to play more consistent. It's a tough game and you just can't beat yourself up too much and just get right back at it on the next shift. I'm trying to work on that."

Miller was asked what he anticipates from the Rolston-coached Sabres.

"A hard-nosed hockey game," he said. "They'll do their jobs and be responsible all over the ice. You have to play your role under Rolston … that's what he taught me over the years."

The Sabres have been led on offense by the triumphant top-line trio of Marcus Foligno (1 goals, 2 assists), Luke Adam (2 goals) and Zack Kassian (3 assists). Defensively, Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk have excelled. Nathan Lieuwen (1-1-0, 4.00 GAA, .862 save percentage) and Ryan Rondeau (1-0-0, 3.00 GAA, .885 save percentage) have split goaltending duty.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 10:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Tvrdon, Mosher lead Red Wings over Sabres

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Slovakian Marek Tvrdon scored two goals and Evan Mosher turned aside 19 shots to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday in the final round-robin contest of the Traverse City Prospects tournament.

Tvrdon, who was drafted by the Red Wings in the fourth round (No. 115 overall) last June, scored both his goals in the first period when Detroit opened a 2-1 edge. Tvrdon will spend his first full season in North America this season with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. He had 6 goals and 11 points in 12 games with the team in 2010-11.

Phil Varone scored the first-period goal for Buffalo, which had forwards Luke Adam and Daniel Cantenacci and defenseman Brayden McNabb listed as healthy scratches for the match. Detroit was without six players, including 2011 first-round pick Tomas Jurco, who was sidelined with a lower-body injury.

Marcus Foligno scored 13:21 into the second to pull the Sabres into a 2-2 tie. Detroit scored three goals on 11 shots in the third -- receiving goals from Bryan Rufenach, Joakim Andersson and Trevor Parkes. Nathan Lieuwen turned aside 32 shots for Buffalo, which went 0-for-7 on the power-play.

Detroit will play Carolina in the seventh-place game on Wednesday at Center ICE Arena. Buffalo, meanwhile, will battle the New York Rangers in the championship match at 7 p.m. ET.

The fifth-place game will feature the Minnesota Wild against the Dallas Stars and the third-place match will have the St. Louis Blues against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 9:45 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Chaput, Dainton spark Blue Jackets over Wild

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Michael Chaput scored unassisted in the second period for the go-ahead goal, and Paul Dainton made it stand with 26 saves as the Columbus Blue Jackets scored a 3-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday in the third game for each club at the Traverse City Prospects tournament.
Mike Thomas scored in the first to give Columbus a 1-0 lead before Joey Martin connected for the Wild 3:19 into the second to square the contest. Chaput's goal 17:43 into the second snapped a 1-1 tie. Tyler Johnson then scored 16:50 into the third to extend the lead to 3-1.
Matthew Hackett, who was the winning goalie in last year's Traverse City tournament final, made 26 saves in defeat.
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Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 8:16 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Shugg strikes in second OT to lift Hurricanes

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- In what was perhaps the most exciting finish to a game in the 2011 Traverse City Tournament, Justin Shugg connected 2:19 into the second overtime off a breakaway to bring the Carolina Hurricanes their first victory of the tournament, 4-3, against the New York Rangers.
Shugg received his opportunity after a nifty theft on Christian Thomas at the Carolina blue line before speeding, uncontested, down right wing. Despite the loss, the Rangers still advance to the tournament championship game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday at Center ICE Arena.
The Rangers snapped a 2-2 tie in the first when Christian Thomas converted a feed from Shane McColgan with just one second on the clock. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and McColgan also collected goals for the Rangers, who suffered their first loss of the tournament.
Scott Pitt and Tyler Carroll connected for Carolina in the opening period.
Beau Schmitz scored 17:42 into the second to pull the Hurricanes into a 3-3 tie. Both goalies played well throughout. Carolina goalie Mavric Parks stopped 38 of 41 shots, including 23 in the third period. Rangers goalie Jason Misssiaen turned aside 35 shots in the loss.
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Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 8:15 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Rattie, Allen lead Blues past Stars

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Ty Rattie scored a pair of goals and dished out two assists, and Philip McRae had a goal and two assists to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 6-1 victory against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

Goalie Jake Allen made 27 saves to notch his first victory of the tournament.

Anthony Nigro and Tyler Shattock scored first-period goals as the Blues opened a 2-1 lead. Matt Tassone scored the only goal for Dallas, which has lost two straight games. Jay Barriball also hit for St. Louis, which finished 3-for-10 on the power play.

Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak totaled 7 penalty minutes and engaged in his first fight of the tournament with Yannick Veilleux.
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Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 3:12 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

More Traverse City struggles for Stars' Campbell

You get the feeling Dallas Stars goalie Jack Campbell is beginning to think this Michigan resort community that hosts the Traverse City Prospects Tournament has it out for him.
In three starts, including two during the 2010 tournament, Campbell is 0-3 with a 5.25 goals-against average and .858 save percentage. Still, traditionally regarded as a goalie who plays well in tight situations, Campbell has been under siege for most of his three appearances in Traverse City.
"I'm a competitor and hate to lose," Campbell told "Obviously, I just try going out there and giving the team the best chance to win and while I wasn't on my 'A' game (in a 6-2 loss to the Rangers), I competed as hard as I possibly could to stop every puck until the final buzzer. Now I hope we can go out today and get a win."
Campbell will earn his next start Wednesday, against an opponent to be determined.
It was a whirlwind 2010-11 season for Campbell, who was selected 11th at the 2010 Entry Draft by the Stars. After training camp he made his Ontario Hockey League debut with the Windsor Spitfires, but he struggled at the start, going 2-5-0 with a 4.86 goals-against average and .853 save percentage. When he left the Spitfires in December for the 2011 World Junior Championship, he had a 12-9-0 mark with a 3.68 GAA and .887 save percentage.

He turned things around at the WJC in Buffalo.
In six games, Campbell topped all goalies with a 1.70 GAA and .941 save percentage and was named the tournament's best goaltender en route to helping lead Team USA to a bronze medal.
"More than anything else, I learned about myself during my time in Windsor," Campbell said. "I just have to go out there and have fun and everything else will take care of itself. When I put too much pressure on myself, like I did last year, that's when things kind of fall out of place a little bit."
Campbell was better when he returned to Windsor following the WJC. He went 12-5-4 in his final 23 games, producing a 3.93 GAA and .881 save percentage, and helped Windsor to a fourth-place finish in the OHL Western Conference. He backstopped postseason series wins against Erie and Saginaw to advance to the conference finals, where they lost in five games to the eventual league champion Owen Sound Attack.
"I think he's bounced around with teams and his first year with Windsor last year was a learning experience for him," Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk told "Probably for the first time in his career he faced a lot of adversity, but those are all good growing lessons. This year, he'll go back to junior knowing he'll be there and really kind of concentrate on being a top goaltender. He's on course to where we need him to be."
Campbell played every minute in the postseason for the Spitfires, and finished the playoffs second in the league with nine wins and two shutouts. He had a 40-save, double-overtime win against Erie in the first round, and a 3.74 GAA and .887 save percentage in 18 games.
"Campbell just works so hard and he goes after every shot," said prospects coach Jeff Pyle, who coaches the Stars' AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. "He's always got a smile on his face and I know these guys are critical of themselves. In his loss, we didn't play very well in front of him and I felt terrible for him, but as a professional, it's like water off a duck's back. He's going to forget about that and be ready to play the next time. You know he's going to take everything he learns and just build off of that." 
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Posted On Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 9:20 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Wings adjust schedule for McCrimmon service

The Detroit Red Wings will open training camp a little earlier Saturday in an effort to make certain the entire team can board a bus from Traverse City, Mich., to Detroit later in the afternoon to attend the wake planned Saturday for former assistant coach Brad McCrimmon.
McCrimmon was one of 44 victims killed in a plane crash near the city of Yaroslavl in Central Russia last Wednesday. Most of the people on board were members of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team in the Kontinental Hockey League. McCrimmon had left his post with the Red Wings in May to take the coaching job with Lokomotiv.

According to Detroit's training camp director, Ann Reeves, the team will begin camp at 7 a.m. on Saturday at Center ICE Arena, a change from the previously listed 9:30 a.m. start. There will not be a scrimmage on Saturday, but the team will have a full practice session. Those fans with tickets to Saturday's opening day of camp may use their tickets to attend Detroit's open scrimmage on either Sept. 21 or Sept. 22.
Following the viewing, the Red Wings will return to Traverse City on Saturday night and resume camp Sunday.
"I want to extend my sincere thanks to the entire Detroit Red Wings organization for not cancelling Saturday's session completely and for being so accommodating during this difficult time," Reeves said.
Reeves also said the remaining camp schedule, which runs through Sept. 22, remains the same. Fans wishing to receive a refund for Saturday's session can do so by either calling the arena or presenting their ticket in person at the arena.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Monday, 09.12.2011 / 7:41 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Foucault and Hackett lead Wild over Red Wings

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Kris Foucault scored his second goal with 1:52 remaining in the third period and Matthew Hackett stopped 46 shots when the Minnesota Wild earned a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in the final game of Day 2 here at the prospects tournament.

Foucault, who had 25 goals and 48 points in 65 games for Calgary in Western Hockey League last season, finished with three points and a plus-3 rating for the Wild. Justin Fontaine also scored of Minnesota, which was outshot, 48-26.

Artem Sergeev and Xavier Ouellet scored the goals for winless Detroit and Gustav Nyquist chipped in with two assists. Ramis Sadikov turned aside 22 of 26 shots for the Red Wings.

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Posted On Monday, 09.12.2011 / 7:18 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Binnington stops 17 shots to lead Blues

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Jay Barriball scored with just 7:07 remaining in the third period and goalie Jordan Binnington made it stand with 17 saves as the St. Louis Blues scored a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Day 2 at the prospects tournament.

Binnington, who posted a 27-12-5 mark with a 2.52 goals-against average and .917 save percentage for Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League last season, stopped 12 shots over the final two periods. He was named the Most Outstanding Goaltender of the 2011 Memorial Cup, posting a 1.42 GAA and a .951 save percentage.

Ryan Tesink pulled the Blues into a 1-1 tie 9:44 into the third when he scored off an assist by Maxime Villemaire. Swede Mattias Lindstrom scored 9:13 into the first to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead. Goalie Mavric Parks stopped 24 shots for the 'Canes.

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Quote of the Day

It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.

— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18