The Amerks returned to practice this morning after a day off following a three in three weekend where they won two against Toronto on the road after an ugly loss to Cleveland.
Chris Taylor said he liked the energy level of the team and the way the team responded in the third period on Sunday. The team was down 4-1 early in the third period, after giving up three in the second, and came back to win 5-4 in overtime.
Kyle Criscuolo said the early third period goal didn’t deflate the bench in any way but when CJ Smith scored they looked at the clock and knew they still had a lot of time to come back. Besides that second period, the team felt like they were still playing the way they needed to and continued to push forward.
Criscuolo scored the game tying goal with 22 seconds remaining in regulation. He was clearly excited after the goal. When I asked him about that he said, “The most exciting goal so far this year that I’ve scored. It was just exciting as a team, and to be able to be back and help the team win was exciting for me.”
“The whole group felt like we were going to get this game no matter what and we did,” Rasmus Asplund said after practice. “I think it just shows how strong of a group we have in the locker room.”
Asplund scored two big goals in that come back game. His play hasn’t changed much (other than improving) from the start of the season, he’s been a strong part of that line with Olofsson and O’Regan and it’s paying off with more points for him on the score sheet. Since the first game of the season Asplund has been great at both ends of the ice even though points weren’t coming for him.
The two goals that Asplund scored on Sunday are passes and shots that they’ve worked on a lot after practices this season. I asked Asplund about that and he said, “We try to work on a lot of stuff to get better. Of course other teams scout us and figure out how we play so we need to come up with new stuff. We (Asplund, Olofsson, O’Regan) talk a lot of how we’ll create offense and this week we had a lot of success with it.”
Will Borgen was called up to the NHL for the first time in his career and will join the Buffalo Sabres in Ottawa today. It’s unknown at this time if he’ll play but it was an exciting morning in the locker room when everyone got to find out in person instead of a phone call.
“Nothing better than telling a guy about his first NHL call up,” Chris Taylor said after practice this morning. “I remember mine, I’m sure he’ll remember for the rest of his life. The hard work he’s put in all year and how much he’s grown is something special.”
Judd Peterson has played this season in Cincinnati and is a former college teammate of Borgen. He said he was able to give him a big hug and see him before he left. Peterson said, “To see a guy like that hopefully make his debut it is something special.”
There are apparent injuries and illness in the Sabres locker room which resulted in a need for a defensemen. It’s not the Buffalo Sabres simply calling someone up for a look.
Judd Peterson is expected to play Wednesday and is looking forward to playing and another chance in the American League. He said, “It’s a winning culture everywhere you go in this organization, hopefully Buffalo keeps building up, but it’s nice to be a part of both teams that are going to be playing in the playoffs and have something to play for.” Peterson has 28 points (11G+17A) in 48 games with the Cyclones this season.
Down three defensemen the Amerks were in need of someone and they called up Kurt Gosselin from Cincinnati. Pilut and Borgen are up and Redmond is still off the ice with a lower body injury.
Chris Taylor said, “I’d like to get a look at him before the playoffs and see what we have. That’s big for me. I want to know what we have, who we have, and what’s available for us going into the playoffs. Guys are going to get hurt if we’re playing the right way. We want to make sure we know what we have.”
Gosselin likes to join the rush a lot with the puck, which they need, but Taylor said it could be something they’ll have to keep an eye and just make sure he’s doing it at the right times. Gosselin only has seven games with the Cyclones but already has 7 points (5G+2A). He’ll get the chance to score with the two puck moving defensemen in Pilut and Redmond out.
A few other shorter updates:
CJ Smith missed practice with an illness, no concerns there.
Matej Pekar had the chance to skate on the top line with Kevin Porter and Wayne Simpson filling in for CJ Smith. That’s the first full team practice that Pekar has had a chance to skate in. Up until today he’s skated as an extra at the end of practice. Pekar isn’t close to playing yet but is progressing well. He’s been staying on the ice for up to an hour or longer after regular practice is over working on conditioning. He’s working hard and they’re working him hard. He’s often down on his hands and knees trying to catch his breath.
Andrew Oglevie missed practice. Will have an update tomorrow. He didn’t play either game in Toronto.
Kurt Gosselin is wearing #42 for those who keep track of numbers.
The power play had Nathan Paetsch on it which could make for an interesting addition. He took the spot normally taken by Redmond or Pilut.
Amerks only have four home games left before the playoffs. Two of those games are this week playing Wednesday night vs Lehigh Valley and Friday night vs Laval.