While Jake McCabe was preparing to face the New York Islanders, other young American players were skating across the street. The Sabres defenseman wants them to know the coming weeks can change their lives.
The world juniors did for him.
McCabe captained the United States to the gold medal in the 2013 world juniors. The experience is never far from his mind for many reasons. The top one is it made him the player he is today.
“It helped me a lot in my hockey career,” McCabe said Friday in KeyBank Center. “It gave me confidence. Just getting that feeling of winning and winning a championship and gold medal, it’s special.”
McCabe made time this week to catch up with USA Hockey executives who are inhabiting HarborCenter. This year’s U.S. junior team is holding its pretournament camp in Buffalo. The players are skating Friday through Tuesday to get ready for this month’s tourney in Montreal and Toronto.
“When I see those guys, we always reminisce a little bit,” McCabe said. “It’s something special. It’s something you can’t get taken away from you.”
He would advise the new crop of Americans to be ready for the tournament right now.
“Everyone needs to just buy into their role,” McCabe said. “It’s such a short tournament. Tim Taylor” of USA Hockey “told me whatever team improves the most is the team that’s going to win, and that’s what we did that tournament. It’s pretty much what I would always say to a team going forward.”
McCabe has become one of the Sabres’ top-pair defensemen, something that wouldn’t have happened without the world juniors and the U.S. coach who was a familiar face on the Buffalo blue line.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Phil Housley,” McCabe said. “He saw a lot in me, enough to name me captain of the team. It caught me by surprise and really opened my eyes to the type of player I could be.”
When the Sabres visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, there could be a few lulls in the action. Both teams will be on the second night of back-to-back games.
As the Sabres hosted the Isles, the Hurricanes welcomed the Washington Capitals to PNC Arena. It’s been a hard place for the visitors to find success.
The Hurricanes entered Friday with seven straight wins at home. It was the longest stretch since Carolina won eight in a row Jan. 24-March 11, 2010.
During the Hurricanes’ seven-game streak, they had outscored opponents, 24-12, while going 17 for 18 on the penalty kill. Goaltender Cam Ward was 5-0 with a .954 save percentage and two shutouts.
Carolina is 3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. Buffalo is 2-1.
Sabres forward Tyler Ennis is taking the first steps toward his return from sports hernia surgery.
“He is skating on his own right now and has been doing so for a good three or four days,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
Ennis has been out since Nov. 7. The recovery time is typically six to eight weeks.
The Ottawa Senators have announced Bryan Murray will be the first inductee to the Sens Ring of Honor. Murray is the senior hockey adviser after previously serving as coach and general manager.
Murray is the brother of Sabres assistant coach Terry Murray and the uncle of Buffalo General Manager Tim Murray.
“Bryan Murray’s distinguished career places among the finest executives in NHL history, not only as a coach and general manager but as a leader and mentor,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said. “I want to extend the most heartfelt congratulations to Bryan and his family on this tremendous honor.”