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Sharpen Up: April 15, 2019

Here's what you need to know this week

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

While the Buffalo Sabres' coaching search continues, the Rochester Americans are gearing up for a Calder Cup Playoff run. 

The Amerks will face the Toronto in the first round, starting Friday night at Blue Cross Arena. Tickets are on sale now.

Here's what you need to know. 


Amerks vs. Marlies

Tweet from @AmerksHockey: READ | The #Amerks will face the @TorontoMarlies in the First Round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs!Game 1��� of the best-of-five North Division Semifinals is set for Friday, April 19 in The @BlueCrossArena at 7:05 p.m. 🗒���:


The Rochester Americans will face the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies in the first-round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Amerks begin the postseason on home ice for Games 1, presented by Nissan, and 2 of the best-of-five opening round series on Friday, April 19 and Sunday, April 21 at Blue Cross Arena. Rochester will also host a decisive Game 5, if necessary, on Sunday, April 28.

The opening round series will mark the third meeting in the postseason between the two teams since 2012.

Rochester, the No. 2 seed in the North Division, secured its second straight playoff berth with a 6-4 win over the Binghamton Devils on March 30 and clinched home ice for the first-round following its 2-1 victory at Cleveland on April 8.

The first 3,000 fans in attendance for Game 1 will receive a custom Amerks hard hat, courtesy of Nissan.

Game 1: Friday, April 19 - Toronto at Rochester | 7:05 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena
Game 2: Sunday, April 21 - Toronto at Rochester | 3:05 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena

Game 3: Wednesday, April 24 - Rochester at Toronto | 7:00 p.m. at Coca-Cola Coliseum
*Game 4: Friday, April 26 - Rochester at Toronto | 7:00 p.m. at Coca-Cola Coliseum
*Game 5: Sunday, April 28 - Toronto at Rochester | 5:05 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena

*if necessary

Tickets for all first-round home games are on sale now. Individual game tickets for Round One of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs start as low as just $14 and range in price up to $28 depending on seat location. All tickets purchased on the day of the game will increase by $2.

We'll have more on the series later this week. 

Just a couple of guys having a good time

Thank you Tiger 🐅

A post shared by Jeff Skinner (@jeffskinner) on

Looks like Jeff Skinner, Scott Wilson, Casey Mittelstadt and Conor Sheary had some fun at the Masters this weekend.

Minnesota Duluth wins national championship in Buffalo

From our Game Recap…

Hunter Shepard insists that he's prepared for games the same way since he was 14 years old, save for a tweak here and there. That consistency is evident in his postseason play. 

Shepard, who attended development camp with the Sabres last summer, stopped all 18 shots he faced to help lead Minnesota Duluth to a 3-0 win over Massachusetts in final game of the Frozen Four at KeyBank Center on Saturday.

Tweet from @NCAAIceHockey: The Bulldogs share the celebration with their biggest supporters that made the trip to Buffalo!#FrozenFour 🏆

Minnesota Duluth is the first program to repeat as national champions since Denver won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005. Shepard, having backstopped the Bulldogs to last year's championship as well, is now 8-0 in NCAA Tournament play. 

"Sheppy has been our brick wall all season long," senior captain Parker Mackay said. "He was our most consistent player. I think he was our most competitive player. … I don't think we are even close to where we are without him.

"He's come in these last two seasons and been unbelievable. He doesn't talk too loud or say too much when he's at the rink, but once he's on the ice, he's an absolute competitor and warrior. You want to go to war like that each and every day when you know how hard he's battling."

Minnesota Duluth played with the poise of a team appearing in its third straight national championship game.

"Tonight was probably one of our best games we played for sure in the NCAA tournament, probably from our league tournament as well," Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin said. "It couldn't have come at a better time."

Sabres prospect Jacob Bryson (fourth round, 2017) and his Providence Friars fell to the Bulldogs 4-1 on Thursday at KeyBank Center. From our recap of the Frozen Four match:

Bryson could one day make a habit of playing in Buffalo. He's compiled an impressive collegiate resume since being selected by the Sabres in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Draft, one that includes 73 points and a pair of Hockey East All-Star honors. 

Yet, in the aftermath of his KeyBank Center debut on Thursday, the junior defenseman was more interested in reflecting on a memorable run to the postseason than contemplating his future. 

"I'm really not focused on that right now," he said when asked about potentially signing with the Sabres this offseason. "I'm so excited with how my team played tonight, how we've been over the season. We came so far and did such a great job, and that's really what I'm focused on right now."

Bryson looked the part of a team captain while speaking at the podium after the loss, swallowing his disappointment while he thanked the city and complemented the job done by his coaches and teammates. He came as advertised on the ice, too, assisting on the Providence's only goal of the night. 

Bryson could now have a decision on his hands. He could take one last run at a national championship as seniors next season. Or, if the Sabres are interested, he could leave school a year early and sign his entry-level deal.

There will be time to make that choice. This night was about the present moment, a memory made in Buffalo. It may be the first of many. 

"It was an awesome experience being here in Buffalo, especially for the Frozen Four," Bryson said. "I know myself and my teammates definitely enjoyed the hospitality we got from Buffalo, especially the hotel staff and people around the rink and the fans. Playing that game tonight, it was very fun."

Read more here.


Sharpen Up will return next week...

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