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New Sabres Fasching, Nelson get their first taste of NHL life at practice

Every few minutes during Hudson Fasching’s first NHL practice, a Sabres coach would call him over for a few tips and words of instruction. While his size and skill are evident, the Buffalo prospect still has a lot to learn.

“I’m trying to soak it all in right now, everything from systems to where to put my dirty laundry,” Fasching said with a smile Thursday. “It’s just learning everything, all the little details and just getting in new routine.”

Thankfully for him, the Sabres don’t play until Saturday. It’ll give the 20-year-old time to learn enough to get in the lineup. Coach Dan Bylsma wouldn’t yet commit to using Fasching against Winnipeg, but considering the right winger is going to get a four-year degree in three years, he’s shown he can learn quickly.

For now, just skating alongside NHL players in an empty arena is a blast.

“It’s awesome,” Fasching said in First Niagara Center. “It’s incredible. It’s still a little surreal, but it’s starting to sink in a little more. First day on the ice with all the guys it hits you a little bit more. It’s still a dream come true, and I’m thrilled.”

Fasching formed a fourth-line quartet alongside left wing Matt Moulson and centers David Legwand and Cal O’Reilly. If Fasching can show the skill set that led him to a 20-goal season at the University of Minnesota, he’ll rise up the depth chart.

He feels he’s ready for the NHL after an impressive junior season.

“The scoring touch came on for me a lot this year,” said the 6-foot-2, 216-pounder. “I was able to put a lot more pucks in the net than I had in previous years. I was able to score in different ways, too. My freshman and sophomore year was a lot of rebounds, a lot of stuff plays, a lot of easy goals in some people’s eyes. This year, I had a couple one-timers, I had shots, I made plays on the rush.

“I was able to diversify my game a bit, earned a lot of ice time in different roles.”

Fasching will wear No. 52 for the Sabres, though he wasn’t given a choice.

“I came in here and it was 52, and I’m not asking any questions about it,” he said.

Fellow newcomer Casey Nelson also made his practice debut. The Sabres signed the defenseman as a college free agent out of Minnesota State. While Fasching knows a few Sabres through his appearances in development camp, Nelson is coming in cold.

“I didn’t even know how to spell ‘Sabres’ right away,” Nelson said. “I had to look it up. It’s a little nerve-racking, but I’m excited to be here.”

Nelson is a self-described late bloomer who can skate well.

“I kind of had to fight my way through each step here, and I’m excited for this one,” he said.

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