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by Justin Bailey / Buffalo Sabres

(Photo Credit: Bill Wippert)

Throughout Training Camp, Sabres prospect and Buffalo native Justin Bailey will be sharing his experience with as he embarks on his first season of professional hockey:

Every summer, it’s special to be fortunate enough to wear a logo that not many people are able to wear, especially being from Buffalo. Every year, I kind of have the same goal, but this year, in a way, is the most important. This will be my first year pro, so everything I do from here on out is to make the team.

Everything kind of fell right into place for me to be here. I think it adds a little bit of extra motivation, having all my family and friends here and that’s what pushes me to get here as soon as possible and achieve that dream I’ve had since I was small: To make the big league.

My first few days of camp have been good. To be honest, I think I could have had a better start in the prospects games, but I think that in the last four or five days I’ve really come into my own and I’ve started playing the hockey that I’m capable of playing.

I feel more comfortable this year. My first year – I’ve said it before – I was a little bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t think I really showed my all. In my second year, I worked out with the pro guys all the way from April through August like I did this summer.

You really get close to guys in the weight room. When guys know you – you know all the trainers and coaches – I think that’s something that helps me being in my third year with the organization.

This year, there are a lot of new faces, too, and I’ve been fortunate to play with them in my practice group. You learn from guys like Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane. Those are special players in the League. They’re the big time guys. As hard as it is to get to know them in a week’s time, you look at what they do and you try to emulate your game and take little bits and pieces from the details of their game.

I’m working on knowing my size and my strength this season. I’m most effective when I’m moving my feet and playing a fast, up-tempo game. I think the next step for me is just bringing that every night. The last four or five days I’ve been really on my game and I think that if I can do that consistently it’ll take me to the next level.

My big goal for this camp is just to try and continue what I’m doing. I can only control what I’m doing. And that’s playing hard, playing well and showing the coaches and the guys up top that I’m here to stay.

I’m going to be a consistent player and hopefully I’ll be able to help this team.

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