Summer habits. They can be difficult to break. Summer hockey is about fun and skill and speed but as the calendar turns to autumn with the NHL season around the corner, the rink has a different feel. It’s more physical. It’s more aggressive. And it requires a little more discipline.
While the results were lackluster for the Buffalo Sabres in their games against the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins in the 2016 Prospects Challenge at HarborCenter, it was an important few days for forward Hudson Fasching as he prepares for his first NHL training camp.
In his two games during the Prospects Challenge, he had two shots on goal, four penalty minutes and was a minus-three.
“You have a long summer of playing shinny hockey. You build summer habits,” Fasching said. “So for me, it’s to get rid of those summer habits that are not good, that are just bad habits in general and getting back into the flow of full contact and making sure I’m playing with a lot of detail to my game.
“It’s a different feel,” Fasching said about the Prospect Challenge games versus summer hockey. “You’re out there and you’re a little shell-shocked at first in your first real game. It’s nice … just getting into the physical contact of things. Just feeling bodies against you, feeling slashes on your arm. Guys aren’t doing that in summer hockey so it’s just feeling contact and playing under contact. That’s one of the things I’m really taking away from this and getting ready to play. The next level is going to be a lot more physical and this is going to help.”
Fasching is looking to make his step to the next level after a standout career at the University of Minnesota where he notched 94 points (46 goals, 48 assists) in 115 games. He left the Gophers after his junior season and joined the Sabres for the last seven games of the season where he scored a goal, picked up an assist and impressed some of the coaching staff.
“There’s not much I don’t like about his game,” said Dan Lambert, who as an assistant coach with the Sabres last year, will be the head coach in Rochester this year and guided the Prospects tournament team. “He’s really good at protecting pucks down low. He plays hard. He plays his position. He’s not worried about impressing anyone, it seems like. He just does his job every shift. Whenever you see that, you know good things are in store for him in the future.
“He’s a special person, to be honest with you. He’s a really, really likable young man.”
He’s also pretty honest with his assessment. Monday’s 4-3 loss to Boston started with a 3-0 hole thanks in large part to a constant parade to the penalty box by the Sabres, including a pair from Fasching. A tussle at the end of the first period sent him off for cross-checking. Then in the second he was dinged for slashing, becoming a bit too active with his stick while trying to establish position in front of the net.
“I think part of it is you get behind, you get angry, you get aggressive and then you kind of keep digging yourself into a bigger hole,” Fasching said. “It happened to us. It happened to me personally, too. You can see the aggression that builds up.
“Obviously losing’s not fun. We came here proud and we were getting our butts kicked out there for lack of a better way to put it. But it’s the first two games of the year. We’re trying to get back into it and it is how it is.”