COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Sabres are expanding their Fan Appreciation celebration. In addition to the annual season-ending event, Buffalo will reward families and users of smartphone apps.
The Sabres will hold Family Appreciation Day on Sunday for the 3 p.m. game against the New York Islanders. There will be a family-focused party in Alumni Plaza outside KeyBank Center beginning at 1 p.m.
The Sabres will offer $15 tickets for children with the purchase of a regularly priced 300 Level ticket ($54). Family packs with four tickets, four sodas, four hot dogs and four popcorns are available for $199, and hat packs featuring two 300 Level II tickets and a Sabres New Era cap can be purchased for $99.
Tickets are available at the arena box office and Sabres.com.
Announcer Rick Jeanneret will call Sunday’s game from the 300 Level. The team will decide the winner of its 7th Man Award during a first-intermission on-ice run. Fans can bid on an in-seat visit from Sabretooth through an auction on the My One Buffalo app.
Fan Appreciation Night will be held April 5 for the home finale against Montreal. The first 10,000 fans will get free One Buffalo sunglasses. Sabres players will once again give away their game-worn jerseys to select season-ticket holders after the game. There will also be an auction on My One Buffalo that will allow fans at the game to bid on one player’s jersey.
The Sabres Foundation 50/50 raffle winner will take home his share of a guaranteed $50,000 pot. One fan will get a chance to win two round-trip tickets on Delta Air Lines to anywhere in the continental United States. An entire section will win pizza, and New Era Cap will give away 32 hats. Hot dogs, soft pretzels, popcorn cups and Sabres souvenir cups with soda will be on sale for $2.50 each.
The winner of the 7th Man Award will take part in the ceremonial pregame faceoff. The team will also present its player-voted awards for Most Valuable Player, Man of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Unsung Hero.
The $199 family pack and $99 hat pack will be available for the game.
Registered users of the My One Buffalo app can win prizes while watching the final two road games (April 8 in Florida and April 9 in Tampa Bay). There will be a “FAN Goes Digital” tile under the My Tickets area of the app. Broadcaster Brian Duff will announce winners during intermissions and the postgame show on MSG. Prizes include an overnight package at the Buffalo Marriott HarborCenter and two round-trip tickets on Delta.
With two assists during Monday’s 4-2 victory Florida, Jack Eichel regained his status as a point-per-game player. He entered Tuesday’s game against Columbus with 23 goals, 32 assists and 55 points in 55 games.
Eichel had 11 goals, 23 assists and 34 points in the previous 26 games.
“He’s kind of finding his game and how dominant he can be on the ice,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said in Nationwide Arena. “Last year, we saw a ton of puck possession on his stick in the second half of the season. Now you’re seeing him being more dangerous and more of a threat with that puck possession.”
Eichel will dabble in another sport next week. The Buffalo Bisons are bringing Eichel to their house. The center will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. The Bisons host the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at 2:05 p.m. April 6 in Coca-Cola Field.
There was a scary moment during the previous meeting between Buffalo and Columbus when Marcus Foligno inadvertently stepped on the shoulder of Cam Atkinson. The Blue Jackets forward needed stitches to close the wound.
Atkinson playfully told the Columbus Dispatch he remains friends with Foligno after the Buffalo winger Foligno apologized.
“He phoned me,” Atkinson said. “He texted me. He sent me flowers ... an edible arrangement.”
The Sabres are starting one of their longest breaks of the season. They don’t play again until the Islanders visit Sunday.
It’s a rare hiatus. Buffalo had four days between games in October, four days off for the All-Star break in January and five days last month for the bye week.
The Sabres’ season essentially ended after the bye because of a 1-5-2 slide. They’ll work this week to ensure the final five games of the year are better.
“It’s not our break,” Bylsma stressed. “It’s not our five-day break.”