Marcus Foligno was here the last time the World Junior Championships were in Buffalo. As a 19-year-old Sabres draft pick, he played for Team Canada in front of roaring, red-clad crowds in then-HSBC Arena along with former Sabres No. 1 pick Zack Kassian.
So Foligno knows what to expect when the tournament returns in 2018.
"It was awesome, a little bit more special for me because I was drafted by the Sabres," Foligno said after practice today. "And to be playing in front of the fans of Buffalo at the time, they could see me and Zack Kassian play and it was just amazing. The whole tournament itself was crazy, hectic but it was a lot of fun with great memories. The skill and talent you play against was great European players. It definitely got me out there and more confident as a player and let me handle situations better.
"It was almost like a showcase for myself with the fans," Foligno added. "I think they were excited after that tournament. It was a fun tournament for myself, a lot of physical play and some goals here and there. It was good to be in front of the Buffalo fans. They were awesome and we had fans from all over the place. A lot of Canadian fans came down for the US vs. Canada game. it was outstanding, loud the whole game. Something I'll never forget."
Foligno's team posted a 5-1 drubbing of Team USA in the semifinals before dropping the gold medal game to Russia, 5-3.
More thoughts from the Sabres' dressing room on the World Juniors:
Ramsus Ristolainen, who scored the "Golden Goal" in overtime to win the 2014 event for Finland: "It's a great tournament, very special in my country. It's getting bigger and bigger every year. This year they are there in Finland so it's huge there and I have some good memories from a couple of years ago that I'm going to remember all of my life.
"There's great fans in Buffalo. I bet pretty much all the games are going to be packed here. It's going to be good for the city of Buffalo."
Sam Reinhart, a standout for Team Canada last year in Montreal and Toronto: "I had a blast. It was one of the best times of my life. I remember watching it when it was in Buffalo too and I know how good the crowd could get. That will be exciting."
Coach Dan Bylsma, an NHL Network analyst last year: "I thought they did a great job as host the first time. You look back at that tournament it was a big venue for it that had great fan support. I remember following it, knowing it was close enough to Canada to have a great group of fans here."