NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Tyler Ennis was a kid, youth tournaments were a family affair. While he’d get ready to play, his mom and dad would mingle with the other parents and swap stories.
His mom gets to do it on a grander scale this week.
The Sabres are holding their annual parents and mentors trip for Tuesday’s game in Nashville and Thursday’s game in Dallas. Players get to bring someone along to see what life is like on the road for the NHL players. Ennis is bringing his mother.
“She’s liked the camaraderie of meeting other parents,” Ennis said. “My parents were always social. They enjoyed tournaments when I was a kid. Hanging out with parents, they made a lot of friends that we still have today.
“It’s also cool for her to see other cities. Nashville and Dallas are two cities where she’s never been, so it’s nice the Pegulas let us do this kind of thing. She’s excited.”
Ennis’ mom and dad have alternated trips during his career. The parents usually go to lunch or dinner with their kids and sit in on team meetings.
“It’s nice,” Ennis said. “It’s your parents, right? It’s comfort. It’s nice to maybe get your mind off what you’re focused on every day, and that’s hockey. Sometimes it’s good for your mom to be there to talk about different things. It’s the person you can relate most to in the world pretty much. It’ll be good company.”
While the trip has become a yearly event, it hasn’t gotten old. That holds true even for parents who’ve long lived a hockey lifestyle. Sam Reinhart is bringing his mother, who married an NHL player and has two other sons playing professionally.
“She’s looking forward to it, just to be with me,” Reinhart said. “It’s good for me to spend some time with her. She’s familiar with the hockey lifestyle with my two brothers going through it, my dad going through it. She’s pretty aware, but for her to experience what a road trip is like for us is new. She enjoyed it last year, so hopefully it’s a good trip.”
The Predators are home following a successful five-game road trip. They won four times to extend their hot streak to 6-1 in the last seven games.
Coach Peter Laviolette earned the 500th victory of his career Sunday with Nashville’s 4-2 win in Minnesota. He became 25th coach to hit the milestone and joined Columbus’ John Tortorella as the only Americans on the list.
Laviolette, who is in his third season with Nashville, has an overall record of 500-351-119 with the Predators, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders.
"He's been unbelievable," defenseman Matt Irwin told the Predators’ website. “He's very structured, very motivational, gets the guys going before the games, and that's just a great accomplishment.”
Nashville forward Filip Forsberg has 11 goals in the last 17 games.
Forty of the top youth players in Western New York and Southern Ontario will get to perform for scouts from the NCAA and United States Hockey League. The USHL and the Sabres have teamed up to announce the inaugural USHL Buffalo Showcase on March 23-25 in HarborCenter.
USHL Central Scouting will select the local players born in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
“One of the main pillars of our organization is the growth and development of local youth hockey players,” said Mike Gilbert, the Sabres’ vice president of administration and general manager of HarborCenter. “We take great pride in seeing local athletes advance their careers, and this is a perfect opportunity for us to allow players to showcase their talent to USHL and college teams.”