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Sharpen Up: Week of May 13, 2019

All the Sabres news you need to know this week

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Brandon Montour are busy at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. We'll have daily updates on the tournament for you here on Sabres. 

Buffalo also added another forward to the fold while a prospect was honored as the best player in his league.

Here's what you need to know.

 

World Championship updates

Eichel has a pair of assists through two games for Team USA, who dropped their first game against Slovakia, but then bounced back in a big way with a 7-1 victory over France.

Reinhart and Montour helped Team Canada to an 8-0 win over Great Britain on Sunday following a loss to Sweden on Friday. 

Click here for a one-stop shop for your Worlds updates. 

The rest of Team USA's preliminary round schedule looks like this:

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.
Tuesday, May 21 vs. Canada - 2:15 p.m.

And here's what Team Canada has coming up:

Monday, May 13 vs. Slovakia - 2:15 p.m.
Thursday, May 16 vs. France - 10:15 a.m.
Saturday, May 18 vs. Germany - 10:15 a.m.
Monday, May 20 vs. Denmark - 2:15 p.m.
Tuesday, May 21 vs. United States - 2:15 p.m.

 

Sabres sign Ruotsalainen

On Wednesday, the team signed forward Arttu Ruotsalainen to a three-year, entry-level contract.

In his second full Liiga season in 2018-19, Ruotsalainen (5'8", 179 lbs., 10/29/1997) led Ilves and ranked ninth in the league with 21 goals and added 21 assists to total a team-high 42 points.

He led all Liiga forwards in average ice time (21:05) and faceoffs (1,216) in his 59 regular-season games, posting a faceoff percentage of 54.9%. In seven playoff games in 2019, Ruotsalainen recorded seven points (2+5) and a plus-6 rating. Through parts of four Liiga seasons, he has totaled 73 points (36+37) in 204 regular-season games.

Having seen growth in Ruotsalainen's practice habits, coach Karri Kivi decided to give the young forward a look on the top line. 

Ruotsalainen took the job and never looked back. 

"He was almost one of the best centers in the whole league," Kivi said. "We didn't know in August how he was going to play. We put him on the first line and he was excellent there. He played a lot. He was first power play, first penalty kill, first line, everything."

Ruotsalainen led Liiga forwards in average ice time (21:05) and faceoffs (1,216). His 21 goals ranked ninth in the league.

You can learn more about him here.


Luukkonen named OHL's Most Outstanding Player

Video: UKKO-PEKKA LUUKKONEN

Buffalo Sabres goaltending prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been named the recipient of the Ontario Hockey League's Red Tilson Trophy, awarded annually to the league's Most Outstanding Player. 

Luukkonen, who was drafted by the Sabres in the second round (54th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, completed his first season with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League in 2018-19, posting a 38-11-2-2 record in 53 appearances, leading the league in in both wins (38) and shutouts (6). He was also named the Goaltender of the Year.

Tweet from @OHLHockey: Congrats @ukkopekkaluukko!@Sudbury_Wolves goaltender and @BuffaloSabres prospect voted 2019 Most Outstanding #OHL Player of the Year and prestigious Red Tilson Trophy recipient.DETAILS: https://t.co/Oz3QzmoKrz pic.twitter.com/Bku7L38JYL

He also finished second and third among all OHL netminders with a .920 save percentage and a 2.50 goals-against average, respectively, while his 38 wins set a franchise record for the Wolves, who advanced to the postseason for the second time in three years following a second-place finish in the OHL's Central Division.

Luukkonen becomes the sixth goaltender to win the award and the first member of the Wolves to be honored in 40 years since Mike Foligno was the club's first award recipient back in 1979. The Finnish netminder is the first European import player to be recognized.


Bandits in the NLL Finals

Tweet from @NLLBandits: Here's your @NLL Finals schedule! Get your tickets for May 18 in Banditland: https://t.co/6pIdNMTKWq pic.twitter.com/RL9X5LjRgz

One last thing: Congrats to the Buffalo Bandits on reaching the NLL Finals. They'll host Calgary in Game 1 of the best-of-three series Saturday night at KeyBank Center.

You can read the full recap here of their win in the East Division Final here. Tickets are on sale now. 

Tweet from @NLLBandits: What a team. What a year. We���ve got something special.Let���s keep it rolling. pic.twitter.com/uritxmUepx

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