William Borgen was the obvious choice to shoot first for the Team Teal when a scoreless tie rolled into a three-player shootout in the championship matchup of the French Connection Tournament at HARBORCENTER on Tuesday. Borgen had already scored two shootout goals on the day, both game-winners.
On this occasion, he missed. But so did the next shooter, and then so did the next nine. Goalie Steve Racine proved unsolvable on the worn ice as both teams exhausted all their scorers, and thus it was up to Borgen to take a second attempt. This time, he scored, and his team won the third annual 3-on-3 tournament 1-0 over Alex Nylander's Team Gold.
"I didn’t see much so I just shot it and got lucky," Borgen said.
When the day began, Borgen's squad included William Carrier, Paul Geiger, Victor Olofsson and Austin Osmanski. They won only two games in the round-robin portion of the tournament, both on Borgen's shootout goals. Olofsson went down with an injury during their quarterfinal matchup with Hudson Fasching's Gray team, a 1-0 Teal win, and Fasching switched over to Teal.
"We picked up Fasching on the trade deadline there so that was pretty big for us," Carrier joked. "We didn’t sign him for a lot of money. He got a PTO so I think he wanted to come here."
"They made a great GM play by Will Carrier and picked me up," Fasching said. "I'm happy to contribute."
Fasching actually delivered the hit that caused Olofsson's injury, which was described by both general manager Tim Murray and Rochester Americans coach Dan Lambert afterward as a "charley horse." He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, of course, but it was part of an inspired effort from Fasching to bring physicality to the 3-on-3 tournament. It's the same type of play he's hoping to carry into training camp as he tries to make the NHL club.
"For me, it's being big, playing well, winning battles," Fasching said. "That's kind of what I'm focusing on, even at development camp, just playing to my strengths, making sure I'm winning as many battles as I can low and on the walls, trying to make plays.
"I didn’t have any goals today in the 3-on-3 tournament today, but our team still won and that's kind of what I'm looking for I guess."
"He played the way he needed to play," Lambert said of Fasching. "Even though in 3-on-3 sometimes guys forget it is ice hockey and there is hitting, he was physical and he surprised a few guys with that."
Carrier, as he was in the Blue & Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, was also a presence with four goals and two assists in the tournament. Unfortunately, his physicality resulted in an injury as well as Michael Campoli went hard to the ice stayed down for several minutes before being carried off on a stretcher by Emergency Medical Technicians.
Murray and Lambert both said afterward that Campoli was smiling and joking a bit after the fall, and Murray added that he was moving his extremities. Campoli, a defenseman committed to Boston College next season, was attending camp as an invitee after going undrafted this summer.
"I just finished my check and I didn't really know what happened," Carrier said. "I'm sorry to hear it, I just finished my check and I think he lost footing and fell back. I feel really bad for the kid."
UPDATE (4:23 p.m.)
Campoli sent out a tweet on Tuesday afternoon saying he was feeling well and had been released from the hospital.
NYLANDER FINISHES SECOND
Like the Teal team, Alex Nylander's Gold squad overcame a slow start to play its way to the championship match. Nylander scored three goals himself, one in a shootout and two more in a semifinal win over Giorgio Estephan's Team White.
It was yet another skillful display to end an impressive camp from Nylander, Buffalo's top selection in the 2016 Draft. What happens next depends on the rest of the summer and the type of impact he can make at training camp. Nylander's options for next season include another year in junior hockey, a return to Sweden, beginning the year in Rochester or joining the Sabres out of camp.
"He was great," Murray said. "If you asked me, could I see him going back to junior? I guess there's a scenario. If you asked me, could I see him playing wing with Jack [Eichel] and Sam [Reinhart], I think there's a scenario. I mean there's all kind of scenarios and he could fit in any one of them. He's high-end talent, high-end skill. He's going to be a real good NHL player; it's a matter of time."
BAILEY, BAPTISTE IMPRESS
What Murray said in regards to Nylander also goes for a number of young players who will have a shot to make the NHL team out of training camp this season. That includes guys who tasted the NHL last season like Fasching, Evan Rodrigues and Justin Bailey.
With a year of pro experience in Rochester under his belt, Bailey impressed at the Blue & Gold Scrimmage and again looked the part at the French Connection Tournament. He scored three goals as his Green team led the way field with five wins prior to a semifinal upset against the Teal team.
The same goes for Nicholas Baptiste, who scored two points in the Scrimmage and added four goals for the Red team on Tuesday.
"Bailey was a man," Murray said. "His team didn’t win, but I think that you saw some strength stuff, some power moves to the net, some hitting from guys that spent time in the [AHL].
"Carrier, I think has been there two years, Bailey and Baptiste one year, so on a consistent basis I think they're ahead of the kids because their attitude is 'I'm a pro player and I have been a pro player and I’m going to make the coaches take a long look at me.'"
A STRONG FINISH FOR GLOTOV
One of the first matchups of the day presented an interesting dynamic in a shootout between the Gold team and the Gray team. Nylander, Buffalo's top selection in the Draft, took the shot for Gold while Vasily Glotov, Buffalo's final selection in 2016, shot for Gray.
As it turned out, Glotov was the one to score and win the matchup for Gray. It was his third goal of that game and the first of two shootout goals for him on the day, both of which he scored on the backhand. It was an impressive ending for a seventh-round pick who became an instant favorite at development camp for his fun and endearing nature.
"I just overheard a few players saying, 'This kid is awesome.' They just love being around him and he's got that aura about him that's very positive and likable," Lambert said. "It's funny because his first period in the scrimmage, he came up to me and he said, 'You know what, that was my first time on the small ice' and 'I'll get better, I'll get better.' He's such a lovable young man and he did get better."
He wasn’t as development camp, but Harvard University product Jimmy Vesey has remained a topic of conversation since Buffalo acquired his rights from Nashville in exchange for a third-round pick in June.
The Sabres had a positive meeting with Vesey last week, but whether or not they meet again before Vesey becomes an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15, Murray said, is up to him.
"I told him he doesn’t owe anybody anything," Murray said. "He went to school for four years and he became a free agent so he's got to make the right decision for him. There's no timetable. I felt really good about the meeting, I got great feedback about the meeting, but this is his show right now."
A VISIT TO MIRACLE LEAGUE FIELD
The prospects took a break from on-ice activity on Sunday to pay a visit to the children at Miracle League Field, a place for kids with special needs to play baseball. You can watch the highlights from that trip and learn more abouth the Miracle League below: