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Sharpen Up: April 22, 2019

What you need to know to start your week

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

What's new this week? Some accolades for Jack Eichel and an Amerks update as the Rochester Americans look to avoid a first-round series sweep.

Here's what you need to know.


Eichel named King Clancy nominee

From our story on the announcement…

Jack Eichel has been selected as the Sabres' nominee for the 2018-19 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced Wednesday. 

The trophy is awarded annually to the player who "best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community." Rob Ray won the award in 1999 for his work with Roswell Park and Children's Hospital, among other organizations. 

Upon being named captain of the Sabres, Eichel continued to further his leadership role in the community this past season. He donated a suite at KeyBank Center to local charitable organizations for all 41 home games, which included post-game meet and greets.

Eichel also autographed more than 300 No. 15 jerseys to raise $48,000 for the Courage of Carly Fund at Roswell Park and Best Buddies of Western New York and attended events for both organizations throughout the season.

The NHL will reveal the three finalists on Tuesday. 

We'll see if defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will be a finalist for Rookie of the Year when the NHL announces the three nominees for the Calder Trophy on Saturday. 

The winner of each award will be revealed at the 2019 NHL Awards on Wednesday, June 19 in Las Vegas.

Worlds watch

Eichel will also be headed to Slovakia to play for Team USA at the 2019 IIHF World Championship starting May 10. 

Tweet from @usahockey: #TeamUSA names its first 17 players to the 2019 U.S. Men���s National Team. #IIHFWorlds 🇺Details ���

From our story on Team USA's preliminary roster…

It will be Eichel's first appearance on the international stage since 2017, when he tallied five assists in eight games at the World Championship in Germany and France. His long affiliation with USA Hockey dates to 2012, when he joined the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Eichel made his Worlds debut as an 18-year-old in 2015, when he tallied seven points in 10 games and came home with a bronze medal. His international resume includes a gold medal at the 2014 U18 World Junior Championship and two appearances at U20 World Juniors with Team USA.

The U.S. opens its preliminary-round schedule against host country Slovakia on May 10 at 2:15 p.m. The full preliminary round schedule is below, with all games airing on NHL Network (all times Eastern): 

Friday, May 10 vs. Slovakia - 2:15 p.m.
Sunday, May 12 vs. France - 6:15 a.m.
Monday, May 13 vs. Finland - 10:15 a.m.
Wednesday, May 15 vs. Great Britain - 10:15 a.m.
Saturday, May 18 vs. Denmark - 6:15 a.m.
Sunday, May 19 vs. Germany - 10:15 a.m.

Coach watch

As Sabres general manager Jason Botterill continues the process to hire a new head coach, two other teams filled their vacancies last week. Anaheim, Edmonton and Ottawa are also currently looking for new bench bosses.

Todd McLellan joined the Los Angeles Kings and Alain Vigneault signed on to coach the Philadelphia Flyers.

When there's news to break in Buffalo, stay tuned to for the latest. 

Down on the farm

From's game recap…

Watch: Youtube Video

The Rochester Americans built a two-goal lead going into the third period of Sunday's Game 2 of the North Division Semifinals at The Blue Cross Arena only to see the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies score twice in less than two minutes before stealing a 3-2 overtime win 2:20 into the extra frame.

The Amerks now trail the best-of-five series 2-0 as it shifts to Coca-Cola Coliseum for Game 3 Wednesday night in Toronto at 7 p.m. Fans in the Buffalo and Rochester markets can watch the game live on MSG.

Forward Wayne Simpson notched an assist on each of C.J. Smith and Kevin Porter's second-period goals while netminder Scott Wedgewood made 20 saves but suffered the overtime loss in the Amerks crease.

"It's disappointing," Simpson said. "To lose in overtime, and the special teams battle, and that sticks out. I think when we look back at the game, their power-play goal was the turning point in the game. We had chances on our power-play but we did not capitalize on it."

"We had a bit of a lapse in the third and they scored in overtime," Smith said. "At this time of the year, you have to play a full 60-minute game. You cannot have any letdowns or it will cost you in the end."

Despite being outshot 30-12 after the first 40 minutes of play, the Marlies drew a power-play 51 seconds into the third period and capitalized on the extra skater just eight seconds later on the ensuing man-advantage. Bracco then tied the game just 55 seconds later.

"We talked about it with our team, we cannot take penalties as they thrive on the power-play," said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. "Right off the bat in the third we take a penalty and they capitalized on it then we were on our heels a little bit during the next goal."

The Amerks lost Game 1 on Friday by a 4-1 score.

Prospect watch

Marcus Davidsson (second round, 2017) is in the SHL Finals with Djurgarden as they take on Frolunda. In Game 1 of the series on Sunday, Davidsson scored in a 5-3 loss. 

Watch the goal here.

The 20-year-old forward has six points (3+3) in 14 playoff games this season. He finished the regular season with a career-high 27 points (10+17) in 52 games. 

Sharpen Up will return next week.

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