|(Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn) |
Throughout Training Camp, Sabres prospect and Buffalo native Justin Bailey will be sharing his experience with Sabres.com as he embarks on his first season of professional hockey:
I played in my first-ever preseason game in Minnesota on Monday night and it was all very cool. I’m not used to flying out to games obviously and the whole experience was awesome from the time we got there. We flew in, went through all the pregame routines and right to the puck drop, it was very special.
Having that experience gives me a little bit of extra motivation to make the team and want to play in the NHL. It’s something that will continue to help push me. The whole lifestyle – the plane, the pregame skate, the meal, the fans – they treat you that way for a reason and you want to keep yourself there.
When gametime finally came around, surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. I think during my first couple of shifts, I was out there trying to kind of feel the game out to see what it would be like. As soon as I kind of figured that out, which came midway through the first period, I played my game and had some really good chances.
That’s a little bit of a confidence booster, knowing that you can play at that high level, especially feeling good like I did. You just have to play hard and get on the forecheck. Doing that creates opportunities and I had a couple of good ones early. That helped me set the tone for the rest of my game.
That being said, there were learning moments, too. I realized that there are situations where you have to get the puck off your stick a little bit quicker and there are times when you have to make decisions faster. Obviously you’re playing against bigger and faster guys. I just had to learn a little bit of that timing, but once I got it down I was fine.
I’ll be looking to get off to a better start once I get my next opportunity.
I think I can be a little bit more poised. I think I had a little bit more time than I thought I did in certain spots. I was able to watch the video right after the game on the flight home and I saw some plays that I could’ve made where I kind of just rushed it.
Going into the next game, I think it’s just about realizing how much time I have and creating plays off of that.