It was 2013 and Sam Reinhart and Connor McDavid were teenagers playing for Team Canada. They were in Sochi, Russia for the IHHF Under-18 World Championships.
The two were roommates on that trip – one which ended with a gold medal for Canada.
They would wear the maple leaf many times together as teammates in international competitions, including the two latest World Junior Championships.
“I’ve played with him quite a bit,” Reinhart said. “We know each other pretty well.”
Which makes Tuesday’s game, the first time they meet as professionals, that much more exciting.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever played against him,” Reinhart said. “I’m trying to think and I don’t think I have. I practiced against him quite a few times. He’s a good player. He deserves all the talk he gets. It’s going to be a fun one.”
“I know Sam really well,” McDavid said. “We’ve become good friends and it’s good to see what he’s been doing this year. He’s had a great year. It will be interesting to play against him for the first time.”
Reinhart ranks 10th among NHL rookies with 28 points. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma has repeatedly talked about the intelligence of Reinhart and his ability to get to the front of the net, not just to score but to create screens for his teammates.
Tuesday’s game marks a return to right wing for Reinhart, who will play with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. Reinhart had played several games at center during the Sabres west coast trip.
“That’s no problem,” Reinhart said of moving to wing. “I felt the last couple of games against the teams we’ve played and playing center, that’s the best I’ve had to skate. Hopefully that energy will get up that much more and I’ll be more effective. That’s where my mindset is.
“I’ve played both,” center and wing “a number of times enough to be comfortable switching back and forth. The last game, the majority of the third period I was back on the wing, so I’m comfortable switching in the middle of games. It’s no different when I come to the rink in the morning and see I’m playing wing. I’m happy playing both.”
With Jamie McGinn traded to Anaheim at Monday’s trade deadline, the Sabres recalled Cal O’Reilly and Daniel Catenacci from Rochester.
Cody Franson, Tyler Ennis and Ryan O’Reilly remain on injured reserve. Morning skate lines were:
Bylsma said Robin Lehner would start for the Sabres.