Matt Moulson and his family have welcomed Jack Eichel into their home. They’ve given him his own bedroom, bathroom and towels. In return, the Moulsons expect a few things from the Sabres’ prospect.
“They’ve given me rules of the house and rules of living with them - but that’s confidential,” Eichel said with a sly grin Friday.
Eichel moved in with the Buffalo veteran and his family about 10 days ago. The 18-year-old is expected to spend his rookie season with the Moulsons.
“He’s got a great family,” Eichel said. “His two kids are really sweet. His wife’s really nice. They’ve really welcomed me like I’ve lived there for a long time. Whatever I need, if it’s my laundry, dry cleaning or towels for a shower, they’re really good. I’m really happy with being there.”
Eichel is also happy to be back on the ice. He had fun during the Sabres’ development camp in July, but there’s something different about preparing for a game in September. He and his fellow prospects will face off against youngsters from New Jersey at 7 p.m. in First Niagara Center.
“It’s the time of year that everyone loves,” Eichel said. “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.”
The Sabres will play against the Boston Bruins on Monday in the arena. The Devils and Bruins will meet Sunday night in HarborCenter.
“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.”
While his former teammates were receiving their Atlantic Hockey championship rings at RIT this week, Matt Garbowsky was in Buffalo preparing for the Sabres’ prospects challenge. Last year’s captain who led the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament still hasn’t received his ring.
“I’ve seen plenty of pictures though,” he said with a laugh after practice.
Garbwosky set an RIT record last year with 54 points on 26 goals and 28 assists. He finished his collegiate career in a dream season as RIT knocked off Minnesota State in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Nebraska-Omaha in the Midwest Regional.
The sting of the loss was mitigated by signing an amateur tryout contract with the Rochester Americans, giving him his first taste of pro hockey in the American Hockey League. Garbowsky signed a one-year AHL deal to return to the Amerks this year.
“It was definitely a crazy time,” Garbowsky said of last year. “It was kind of a bad feeling being put out of the tournament, then turning around and signing my first professional contract was pretty exciting for me as well. It’s been crazy pretty much the whole time.”
Garbowsky benefitted from the structure and opportunity of college hockey. Under coach Wayne Wilson, he gained confidence from being a go-to player.
“Coach Wilson gave me a chance right from freshman year to make an impact,” Garbowsky said. “I felt like each year I slowly got better and better, and he relied on me more. Being that guy that gets to be relied on, you grow a lot as a player.”
His time with coaches from the Sabres’ organization and the chance to play two games will give Garbowsky a chance to make an impression.
“I just want to show what kind of player I am to the organization and that I can help out the team,” he said. “Obviously, I want to be a hard-nosed player and make every shift count and show my skills.”
While right wing Justin Bailey is eager to face the Devils and Bruins, the Buffalo-born prospect is aware the Sabres aren’t the only team with a big weekend.
Said Bailey: “I’m looking forward to Sunday, too, with the Bills playing. With our defense and hopefully Tyrod Taylor comes out hot, hopefully we’ll be all right.”
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