The Devils kicked off the 2019 Prospects Challenge from Harborcenter in Buffalo against the Sabres tonight, falling in their debut game 6-4.
Before we begin, some odds and ends of Devils-related news over the last few days. Firstly, a belated congratulations to former Devil Bill Guerin who was named the general manager of the Minnesota Wild last week. Good luck to a key member of the 1995 Devils as he embarks on a career as an NHL GM.
Secondly, the Devils made two AHL-level signings last week to help fill out the Binghamton roster. First up was Michael Paliotta, 26, signed to a one-year American League contract.
Paliotta is a 6-foot, 4-inch, 207-pound defenseman from Westport, Connecticut who spent last season with the Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames AHL affiliate).
Paliotta has 177 AHL games under his belt with Stockton, the Texas Stars, Hartford Wolf Pack and Lake Erie Monsters. He has ten goals and 35 assists over those games for 45 points. He won the Calder Cup with Lake Erie in 2016. He played college hockey at the University of Vermont and was a part of the US National Team Development Program, winning a gold medal at the 2011 World Junior Championship.
The other AHL signing was goaltender Eamon McAdam to a one-year AHL contract.
McAdam, a native of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, spent last season split between the Toronto Marlies (AHL) and Newfoundland Growlers (ECHL) in the Maple Leafs organization.
He had a 2.99 goals against average and a .897 save percentage in 19 games with the Marlies and a 2.62 GAA and .911 save percentage in 19 games with the Growlers. He won a Kelly Cup championship with the Growlers last season.
The press release put out by the Binghamton Devils mentions that he has played in 55 AHL games total with Bridgeport and Toronto. He has played in 65 games in the ECHL with Missouri, Worcester and Newfoundland. He played college hockey three years at Penn State.
So with all of that out of the way, we come to the first game of the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo.
It was a little bit ugly for the Devils early on, as the Sabres scored just 30 seconds into the game. Kyle Olson took a turnover deep in the Devils’ zone and converted it to make it 1-0.
Of note on the Buffalo roster was defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, a Boston College product who happens to be the son of Devils’ Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald.
Buffalo made it 2-0 later in the first off a 2-on-1 rush when Victor Olofsson scored.
Another Devils’ turnover midway through the first was met with a nice save from goaltender Gilles Senn, who played the first two periods before fellow Swiss goalie Akira Schmid came on in the third.
At the 14: 16 mark, Andrew Oglevie made it 3-0 when he beat Senn glove side with plenty of room and time to maneuver.
In the second period, Olofsson would hit a crossbar early in a bid for a second goal on the night. Artu Ruotsalainen would connect a few minutes later to make it 4-0. Fitzgerald had an assist on this goal.
Things started to get real ugly when Dylan Cozens redirected a puck by Senn on the power play to make it 5-0.
Then, 29 seconds after that goal, William Borgen made it 6-0 Sabres. This was the high point for Buffalo as the Devils would begin to chip away a bit.
Jack Hughes, who saw first unit power play time and generally had a good game, picked off a Buffalo clearing attempt and fired it by Jonas Johansson on the power play to make it 6-1 and begin a mini Devils comeback.
In the third period, things began to get a little bit chippy, resulting in Matej Pekar (Sabres) and Michael Vukojevic (Devils) getting into a scrap. There is a unique rule in this tournament that a player can only have one fight before he his taken off his team’s roster. These guys got it out of the way early.
Following that, some good puck possession along the boards led to Jesper Boqvist being able to create some space and score to make it 6-2.
Colton White would add one more for the Devils, when he redirected a shot by Johansson. That made it 6-3.
Our final came when Joey Anderson, wearing a new number (14) on his back, scored on the power play to make it 6-4.
The Devils pulled Schmid late, but could do no more damage.
Next up, the Devils play tomorrow against the Penguins at 3:30 PM. We will try to have some coverage of that right here for you then.