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Sabres' Eichel: 'Hockey season is here'

Jack Eichel had fun during the Sabres’ development camp in July, but it's better preparing for a game in September.

“It’s the time of year that everyone loves,” Eichel said Friday in First Niagara Center. “It’s a little different playing in September than the middle of July. Everyone’s trying to prepare for the season and find a role somewhere.

“Hockey season is here. This is what I’ve waited for, and this what I think everyone has waited for. I think we’re all just going to make the most of our opportunities.”

Eichel was one of 27 players to skate in preparation for the Sabres’ prospect challenge this weekend. Buffalo will host the prospects from New Jersey on Saturday and Boston on Monday, with the Devils and Bruins playing each other Sunday.

“It’s great to just come in and play some games against another team,” Eichel said. “It’s going to be competitive. Everyone wants to make an impression on management and the coaches. I’m sure we’re going to be flying, and I’m sure the teams we’re going to be playing will be flying.”

Rochester Americans coach Randy Cunneyworth, who is overseeing Buffalo’s players, said Eichel and Sam Reinhart will both play Saturday. Other top prospects on the roster include forwards Justin Bailey, Nicholas Baptiste and Evan Rodrigues, and goaltender Andrey Makaraov.

“It’s exciting,” Eichel said. “You work hard all summer to prepare for prospects tournament and training camp, so it’s been a long road from the draft and everything that’s happened. Now that the season’s here, I’m just excited to start playing hockey again.”

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