Sabres are growing a sustainable hockey farm system
While the Rochester Americans have a Game 5 to look forward to, the system they're building is one that can help it thrive year after year.
ROCHESTER, NY — There’s a strange sensation to watch a young NHL prospect become a better player in front of your eyes. There’s equal parts wonder, expectation, and doubt that floods through your mind about what the player is and what they could become. Hope is the high everyone chases in sports and hope is ever-present in the minor leagues.
The promise of better things for the player and, more importantly for fans, the team is what benefits most from that.
But results are all that matter in Rochester. Young prospects becoming solid NHL players, even stars, is what matters most for Buffalo and finding peace in our time to get the results that everyone wants is starting to happen. The prospects are growing and flourishing, and the Americans are winning more games and making the playoffs is a regular occurrence now.
Watching Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka run wild on the AHL last season and racking up points like kids get candy on Halloween was the first sign. This season it’s Lukas Rousek, Jiri Kulich, and Isak Rosén we’re watching become better players in front of our eyes; becoming key components to what the Americans hope is a deep playoff run and what the Sabres hope becomes a long-lasting NHL career in Buffalo.
But there’s an on-ice and an in-the-room aspect to growing a team that’s just as necessary as the leadership at the top of the organization. Blending it all together is part of the business and right now, business is good.
“When Jiri Kulich or Isak Rosén or any of the other youngsters look up at the leadership in our locker room (Michael Mersch, Sean Malone, Ethan Prow), they see guys that have relentless work ethics, that are totally team-first driven guys that are in the shooting rooms that are on the ice late and early and put in an extraordinary amount of extra work on top of practice,” Americans coach Seth Appert said. “So, it's just easy for them to fall into that because that's the culture. I can talk culture and say we want to do this and all that, but if my leaders don't live that culture, what I say means nothing. Those guys live it every day and it makes my job a lot easier.”
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