It may only be preseason, but Buffalo Sabres fans couldn’t have asked for more out of Jack Eichel in his debut game with the team.
The 18-year old dressed for the first time in Buffalo’s preseason opener against the Minnesota Wild in Minneapolis/St. Paul. After a bit of a slow start for both Eichel and the rest of the team, the second-overall selection in June’s NHL draft got on the board in grand fashion early in the third period.
First, just 1:36 into the final frame, Eichel found linemate and landlord Matt Moulson on a two-on-one for a goal to give him his first (fake) point in the NHL. Just over four minutes later, Eichel took a pass from fellow newcomer Cody Franson into the Wild zone, blew by Jared Spurgeon and beat goaltender Darcy Kuemper on a backhand for a short-handed tally. Not bad for a kid’s first goal in a professional game.
He also made plays that didn’t result in points on the scoresheet, but were impressive nonetheless. You can check that out thanks to Lindy Ruff’s Tie on Vine.
The Sabres would hold on to defeat the Wild 3-2. Nicolas Deslauriers scored the other Buffalo goal late in the first period.
Despite the two points, including a game-winning goal, some may view what Eichel did after the goal as most impressive. As reported by Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, rather than celebrate in some special fashion, Eichel casually celebrated with his teammates. It was as if it wasn’t the first lighting of the lamp for the young up-and-comer.
Eichel was named the first star for his play at the end of the night.
It may have been just one preseason game, but Sabres fans will no doubt be even more excited about what’s to come after this debut performance.
Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.