The morning after a loss to the Bruins in Boston, the Sabres arrived home to a nice turnout for their skills challenge. It's the first time the team has opened this contest to the public.
“It’s cool to have that many people here. It’s a fun event," said Sabres leading goal scorer Jeff Skinner. "The fact that there were that many people here, the atmosphere just made it a little bit better.”
Casey Mittelstadt agreed. “I think it was a fun day all around," said the rookie forward. "It’s nice to let loose a little bit and have some fun out there.”
Fun was indeed had, and there were plenty of memorable moments.
For Zach Bogosian, the choice about which moment stood out the most was easy. “I think 'Skinny' doing his figure skating pirouette, or whatever you want to call it," the defenseman said. "He looked pretty smooth on his edges."
Skinner seemed more willing to downplay his graceful spin. “I don’t know. I haven’t trained that," he chuckled. "Obviously, it didn’t go in but I’m just happy I didn’t fall.”
“Normally when you do something like that cool, Linus should have let that go in, so it goes viral, but it’s not going to matter now because he didn’t score," lamented Bogosian.
“I kind of just threw it at his chest there," Skinner explained, accepting responsibility. "He would’ve had to make quite an effort to let that in. I made it tough on him, but maybe I’ll work on it.”
For Mittelstadt, a different shootout move stuck in his mind. “I don’t want 'Tommer' to have bragging rights, but he did a good job for sure," he admitted, recalling a goal forward Tage Thompson put past netminder Linus Ullmark by sliding on his chest, sweeping the puck across the crease with his open hand to his stick on the other side, and tapping the puck into the empty cage. "I think his first one especially. The one hand was impressive.”
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen clocked the hardest shot of the day at 107.5 mph. Rasmus Dahlin narrowly edged fellow first-year player and roommate Casey Mittelstadt in the one-on-one puck obstacle course.
“He was the first overall pick so you have to give it to him, I think," Mittelstadt conceded.
More importantly the players got to take things a little less serious.
“Anytime you can get your…my son’s not old enough yet, but my daughter down on the ice and seeing all the guys that she normally sees at home, see them on the bench in full equipment, it’s fun for her," the team's alternate captain beamed. "I really enjoyed today. It was a lot of fun.”