The Buffalo Junior Sabres took some roster hits during the summer, but they've got some up-and-coming players looking to make names for themselves, starting with tonight's home opener.
Forward Chris Moran, who last season was the first American ever named Ontario Hockey Association Junior A Player of the Year, decided in August to leave the Junior Sabres and play for the Omaha Lancers in the United States Hockey League. The Junior Sabres also lost Danny Baco, Shane Sims and Josh Schmitt to the USHL. High-scoring forward Kyle Rogers moved on to Niagara University.
Last season, the team finished seventh of 10 teams in the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League's West Conference. They'll look to improve upon that starting with tonight's 8:15 game against the Bramalea Blues of Brampton, Ont.
The Junior Sabres players to watch this year include: defenseman Jeremiah Crowe of Grand Island, who returns after two seasons in the North American Hockey League; forward Eric Simmons of Cheektowaga, the team captain; and first-year forwards Brent Alexin, a former Orchard Park High standout, and Mike Scheu, a South Buffalo product who played for Timon/St. Jude.
Bryan Kalczynski of Lancaster and Blake White of Grand Rapids, Mich., return as the top goaltenders, along with Derek Brennan out of Grand Island High.
The Junior Sabres, formerly the Buffalo Lightning and the Niagara Scenics, are in their 30th year of operation. The coach is Matt English and the general manager is Chuck Giambra.
Tonight's game, at West Seneca Recreation Center, 1250 Union Road, is the first of 24 home games.