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Sharpen Up: May 8, 2017

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

It's been a strong start for the Buffalo Sabres at the IIHF World Championship, which got underway last Friday in Cologne, Germany and Paris, France. In fact, through two games, only two teams remain undefeated in regulation: Zemgus Girgensons and Latvia and Ryan O'Reilly and Canada. 

Girgensons scored a goal and an assist and was named Player of the Game in Latvia's 3-1 win over Slovakia on Sunday. Having opened the tournament with a win over Denmark on Saturday, the Latvians sit all alone atop the Group A standings with victories against two teams that were placed ahead of them in the pretournament world ranking.

The hot start marks the first time that Latvia has won its first two games since joining the top group for the World Championship in 1997. 

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: ICYMI: Zemgus Girgensons chopped this puck into the Slovak net, scoring the game winner in #LATvsSVK #IIHFWorlds

Canada, on the other hand, has a history of success at the event. Ryan O'Reilly and the Canadians are looking to become the first team to win three straight gold medals since the Czech Republic in 2001, and they already have a one-point lead on Switzerland atop the Group B standings. 

It was O'Reilly who scored the first goal of the tournament for Canada in their 4-1 win over the Czech Republic on Friday, and they followed that up with a 7-2 win over Slovenia on Sunday. The Canadians' plus-8 goal differential is second only to Russia (plus-10).

Jack Eichel and Team USA began their tournament with a hiccup, falling 2-1 to Germany on Friday, but rebounded with a 7-2 win over Denmark on Sunday. Eichel has one assist in the tournament, leads the team with 13 shots and his average ice time of 19:29 is second only to linemate Johnny Gaudreau (19:49) among USA forwards. 

Sabres prospect Cal Petersen has served as the third goalie for Team USA and has not yet dressed for a game.

Here's the remaining schedule for the preliminary round:

Canada (O'Reilly)
Friday, May 5: Canada 4 - Czech Republic 1 (RECAP|HIGHLIGHTS)
Sunday, May 7: Canada 7 - Slovenia 2 (RECAP|HIGHLIGHTS)
Monday, May 8 vs. Belarus - 10:15 a.m. (Live on NHL Network)
Thursday, May 11 vs. France - 2:15 p.m. (Live on NHL Network)
Saturday, May 13 vs. Switzerland - 2:15 p.m. (Live on NHL Network)
Monday, May 15 vs. Norway - 10:15 a.m. (Live on NHL Network)
Tuesday, May 16 vs. Finland - 2:15 p.m. (Live on NHL Network)

Latvia (Girgensons)
Saturday, May 6: Latvia 3 - Denmark 0 (RECAP|HIGHLIGHTS)
Sunday, May 7: Latvia 3 - Slovakia 1 (RECAP|HIGHLIGHTS)
Tuesday, May 9 vs. Italy - 10:15 a.m.
Thursday, May 11 vs. Sweden - 2:15 p.m.
Saturday, May 13 vs. USA - 10:15 a.m. (Live on NHL Network)
Monday, May 15 vs. Russia - 2:15 p.m. (Live on NHL Network)
Tuesday, May 16 vs. Germany - 2:15 p.m.

USA (Eichel and Petersen) 
Friday, May 5: Germany 2 - USA 1 (RECAP|HIGHLIGHTS)
Sunday, May 7: USA 7 - Denmark 2 (RECAP|HIGHLIGHTS)
Monday, May 8 vs. Sweden - 2:15 p.m. (Live on NHL Network; tape delay on NBCSN at 11 p.m.)
Wednesday, May 10 vs. Italy - 10:15 a.m. (Live on NBCSN)
Saturday, May 13 vs. Latvia - 6:15 a.m. (Live on NHL Network; tape delay on NBCSN at 10:30 p.m.)
Sunday, May 14 vs. Slovakia - 10:15 a.m. (Live on NHL Network; tape delay on NBCSN at 12 a.m.)
Tuesday, May 16 vs. Russia - 10:15 a.m. (Live on NBCSN)

*All of Team USA's games, as well as all knockout-round games, can be seen live on and the NBC Sports App.


Osmanski, Steelheads trail in OHL Championship

East Aurora native Austin Osmanski (seventh round, 2016) is the lone Sabres prospect still in action, with his Mississauga Steelheads team trailing 2-0 to Erie in the Ontario Hockey League Championship Series. The defenseman has an even rating and one shot in the series so far.

In his second OHL season, Osmanski scored eight points (2+6) in 55 regular-season games for Mississauga and has a plus-2 rating in 17 postseason contests. 

Game 3 of the series will be played tonight in Mississauga at 8 p.m. Follow along here.


The Combine is staying in Buffalo

The NHL Scouting Combine will remain in Buffalo through 2019, the Sabres and the NHL announced on Tuesday. Buffalo has hosted the event each of the last two years, and will host this year's combine beginning on May 29. 

The League has been happy with the logistical convenience Buffalo has been able to provide with the proximity of KeyBank Center and HarborCenter - prospects can conduct their interviews, undergo their testing and return to their rooms without ever stepping foot outside, should they choose - and NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr said as much in a statement:

"The Buffalo Sabres, HarborCenter complex and the City of Buffalo have proven to be amazing hosts and the ideal location for our annual Scouting Combine," he said. "The NHL and its Member Clubs are pleased that this modern, all-encompassing venue will play host for the next three years." 

There are 106 prospects invited to this year's event, which runs through June 3. 

Shredding Day is May 13 

If you're looking to safely recycle those tax documents that are piled up on your kitchen counter, now's the time. The Buffalo Sabres Green Team and Shred-it are partnering to host a "Shredding Day" on Saturday, May 13 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at KeyBank Center. 

From the release:

This event provides an opportunity to properly shred and recycle important documents following tax season. Properly shredding your documents goes a long way to help prevent identity theft. 

Shred-it is the premier on-site document and media destruction company which provides businesses with the most secure destruction procedure in the industry. Shred-it uses proprietary technology to mitigate risk from all forms of identity theft and provides unparalleled customer service while securing all of the consumer's confidential information. Shred-it is committed to preserving the environment - and the security of your business.


Jersey auction is ongoing

There's still time to bid on team-issued and game-worn Sabres jerseys. Among the items available are game-worn jerseys of Maxim Afinogenov, Robin Lehner and William Carrier and a team-issued Jack Eichel St. Patrick's Day jersey. 

All proceeds will benefit the Sabres Foundation.

To place a bid, visit


Sabres alum passes away

Sabres alum Ken Breitenbach passed away on April 28 at age 62 following a six-year battle with colon cancer. Breitenbach was a second-round pick by Buffalo in 1975 and played in 68 games for the Sabres over parts of three seasons. 

More importantly, Breitenbach was remembered as an "all-star grandfather" and an "ambassador for the game" in his hometown of Welland, Ont. in this piece from Bernd Franke on 

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: We are saddened to learn of the death of Sabres alum Ken Breitenbach. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family & friends.

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