The Sabres wrap up development camp

June 30, 2018 - 6:01 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550)- Matej Pekar plays the game like Boston’s Brad Marchand. That was evident during Saturday’s French Connection 3-on-3 tournament to wrap up development camp. The Sabres fourth round pick from last week got demolished by Rasmus Dahlin on Friday following two cheap shots and then he set his sights on Casey Mittelstadt on Saturday.

He went after Mittelstadt hard and last year’s top pick just took the beating from a smaller player until later.

While Mittelstadt was allowing himself to be hit, slashed and abused, his team lost its first two games, but all of a sudden he got mad and things changed. Mittelstadt put up four goals and an assist while Team Martin won two straight games and won the tournament. Mittelstadt said he needed the wakeup call, “It was a lot of fun, it kind of woke me up. It’s early in the morning for me, but it was good, it’s always fun to get into it a little bit.”

Pekar said he knew what he was doing, “I took a shot and got him with the stick and then I slashed Mittelstadt to piss him off and get in his head and try to win the game for the team and I guess it worked out.

“I love it, I love to be the annoying guy, the rat that just keeps getting under guys skin, but it’s kind of my game too.”

As far as the hit Dahlin laid on him Pekar said, “It just happens once in a while. Obviously a great hit by him, but I think I got him back today so, I’m pretty happy about that.

“I’ve never seen him hit somebody like that, I was surprised yes. It was great, an hour later we sat at dinner laughing at it because it was all over the media, even Czech National team was posting it, so it was kind of funny.”  

Dahlin had hoped to put on a show for the fans, but he didn’t get a point and looked frustrated at times. He hit a crossbar early and Mittelstadt loves that he sees, “It’s awesome, he literally floats around out there and doesn’t even look like he’s trying and he’s gliding by guys, so you can see how good of a skater he is and how good his hands are, so it’s definitely really exciting and he’s a big piece for us.”

HarborCenter was packed for the four days of camp and Mittelstadt appreciated it, “It was a blast, it was super cool to see all the fans out there and how loud they were and it’s cool to see how much they really know the game of hockey and how much they really enjoy it.”

Dahlin is also in awe of how he’s been received so far, “I’m just so impressed by all the fans, it’s been amazing to be out on the ice and I’m super impressed and I can’t wait to see all the fans in one arena when the games start.

“They have my jersey on and that feels crazy too, so it’s been awesome. I’m just super impressed that they even know who I am.”

It has become very obvious that Jason Botterill is not going to put up with the entitlement and toxic atmosphere that has been the Sabres locker-room the past few years. That means some of the younger players that were already here are going to have change their ways and their attitudes as well as all the kids coming in. Assistant general manager Randy Sexton said that has been the biggest message to these young players coming in, “We look for good people, finding the good player is the easy part, the more difficult part is finding the good human being. They’ve handled themselves extraordinarily well, we got so much feedback from our fans and the people in the community whether the restaurateurs, or Uber drivers, but how polite and respectful each and every one of these players was.

“It’s paramount, it’s fundamental, we can’t change the culture here without changing the types of people we that we have.”

Each player had an exit interview on Friday and every one of them were given things they need to work on for the rest of the summer and into their seasons if they’re not coming back for training camp.

In addition to Mittelstadt players on the winning team were, Jonas Johansson, Brett Murray, Eric Cornel, Lawrence Pilut, Miska Kukkonen, Ivan Chukarov, Joe Snively and Andrew Peski.

Players that were in camp, but did not skate due to injury were Alex Nylander, Cliff Pu, Marcus Davidsson, Casey Fitzgerald and on Saturday, Mattias Samuelsson.

Connor Hurley (2013 second round pick) and Vaclav Karabacek (2014 second round pick) weren’t even invited to camp.

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