As blueliners, Andrej Sekera
and Mike Weber
are accustomed to working towards a common goal.
They worked together last season as a tandem on the Rochester Americans, and again for the Buffalo Sabres filling in for an injured defense corp.
Now the duo has another goal in mind as rookie camp gets underway; to attain starting roles for the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008-09 season.
“I think anything less would be a disappointment,” Sekera said. “That’s why I did everything possible this summer to make sure that I make the team this year… You have to set your mind to it, believe that you can do it and it will happen.”
The young defensemen were anything but a letdown last season. Combining for a plus-17 rating and 14 points, the pair earned continual praise from the Sabres coaching staff.
Their chemistry was never more evident than March 30 when the tandem secured a 2-1 victory against the Boston Bruins in overtime. Sekera accepted a pass from Weber and fired a shot from the blueline to beat Alex Auld just 39 seconds into the extra frame, keeping Buffalo’s playoff hopes alive.
But what does that mean coming into this year?
“Probably absolutely nothing,” Weber said. “It’s a whole new season, a whole new team. There are some new guys, there have been some good signings in the offseason… so it doesn’t really amount to anything.
“I think you come into camp with a clean slate and it’s almost like it never happened. It’s good for confidence, last season, but I have to go out and prove myself again right now in the main camp.”
Weber, a 20-year-old native of Pittsburgh, served as a rookie not only in the NHL in 2007-08, but in the AHL as well.
Through 59 games for the Amerks, the Sabres’ 2006 draft pick (57th overall) tallied 14 points (1+13) and finished second on the team for rookie scoring.
He hopes to have a similar impact soon donning the blue and gold.
“If there’s a job open, I want it to be mine,” Weber said. “I want to play in the NHL, I want to help this team. Every day I have to go in ready to earn that spot and win that spot.”
Helping him develop along the way is his defense partner, Sekera. The 22 year old was recalled three times for Buffalo in 2007-08 – playing in 37 games for the Sabres.
“Every game I played here I felt more and more comfortable,” Sekera said. “I think at the end of the season I felt pretty good. I was playing good minutes on the ice and I think I played decent hockey. I just want to continue to build on that and hopefully I will get better and better.”
“It’s helping me [to have Weber here] and I think it’s helping him too,” Sekera added. “We know what each guy needs and is capable of. We try to help each other whenever we can and I think it makes it easier on the ice.
“It’s a balance. He is more of a stay-at-home defenseman and I like to be more up in front… I think it works pretty well.”