Team Teal admittedly struggled early. The team had trouble finding goals and consistency Tuesday morning, the last day of Buffalo Sabres Development Camp at HarborCenter.
It was bad enough it was the last day of a physically challenging six-day on-ice schedule, but the last three hours were spent playing a three-on-three tournament. By the time the championship game came around, most players were gassed and Team Teal, well they were down a player.
So they looked around at the eliminated teams and decided on Hudson Fasching. Never mind he was the reason the team was down a player. His hit sent Victor Olofsson to the locker room with what later was reported as a “Charley Horse.”
“We picked up Fasching on the trade deadline there,” William Carrier said, deadpanning in his role as team general manager while the media contingent attempted to stifle their chuckles. “It was pretty big for us. I thought we were going to play four guys but … we didn’t sign him for a lot of money. I think he got a PTO so I think he wanted to come here.”
Fasching in turn praised Carrier’s management.
“We had just got eliminated,” Fasching said of Team Gray “and they were looking to pick up another player and they made a great GM play by Will Carrier and picked me up. I joined the team and was happy to contribute.”
Player acquisitions aside, it was William Borgen who was the hero, scoring in the sixth round of the shootout to give Team Teal the win over Team Gold in the French Connection Cup.
Borgen was the only player to get a puck past goaltender Steve Racine, who kept the final six-minute game scoreless and turned away 10 penalty shots in the shootout round before Borgen finally beat him.
“I didn’t see much so I just shot it and got lucky,” Borgen said. Racine “was playing rock solid.” The ice “gets torn up pretty fast. There’s a lot of guys skating hard out there. It was kinda hard to deek so I just kinda shot it.”
Paul Geiger and Austin Osmanski were also part of Team Teal. They ousted Team Gold, comprised of Sabres top draft choice Alexander Nylander with Devante Stephens, Ryan Mantha, Brett Murray and Maxwell Willman.
There were seven teams of five skaters meaning someone always had to double shift. The horn blew during the six-minute games to signify a line change and games were played inside the blueline.
“There’s a lot of calories burned, that’s for sure,” Carrier said. “There’s a lot of action going around. You can see guys who have skills, making plays so it’s really nice for the fans.”
“For us, it’s so competitive that even if you’re tired you’re just amped up and ready to go out there,” Fasching said. “It’s kind of just fun for us because it’s not a lot of times you get an organized 3-on-3 tournament. I enjoy it personally.”
It can be nice for the coaching staff as well, creating an opportunity to see more acutely the way players utilize their skills, speed, size and smarts.
“Obviously the ice gets old and I guess snowy and gets hard to maneuver the puck,” said Dan Lambert, the new coach for the Rochester Americans who ran development camp on the ice for the Sabres. “I don’t know that I want to name any one guy,” who stood out “because it would be unfair to everyone else. I thought the effort was really good. I mean that’s a tough day for them. They have a lot of games, it’s quick bursts. They don’t get a lot of rest because of the short numbers on each team. I thought the guys did a wonderful job.”
“I think that’s when you really see guys’ skill level, ability to read the play, ability to make reads, see the ice better,” Lambert said. “I think the real skilled, talented players usually rise to the occasion when it’s three-on-three and we saw that today.”
Skill, yes, but general manager Tim Murray was hoping to see some more physical play during the three-on-three games.
“I thought it could have been a touch more competitive at times,” Murray said. “I think that some of the guys and maybe we have a lot of young guys that thought it was like a shinny or a scrimmage.”