Hockeyville brings out star power in Clinton
CLINTON — Local fans packed the Clinton Arena and watched the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Buffalo Sabres, 4-2, in the Kraft Hockeyville USA preseason game on Sept. 25.
The teams spent the first seven minutes of the game skating end to end without a whistle, getting used to the rink’s conditions. There were few scoring chances and a few big hits.
Though the two teams limited their personnel to 16 skaters and two goalies, the star power was out.
Sabres star Jack Eichel drew cheers for two big chances, though neither resulted in scores.
The first came with just over 30 seconds left in the first period, when he tipped a centering pass as he drove the net but he pushed it wide.
The teams were scoreless after one period, but an outburst of goals in the second period made it 2-2 headed into the last period.
Casey Nelson opened the scoring 1:13 into the middle frame, moving left to right and shooting past Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo. Alexander Nylander and Andrew Oglevie assisted.
The Blue Jackets answered back, scoring a power play goal with 7:24 left in the period. Anthony Duclair found a seam up the middle and took a long lead pass from Mike Prapavessis to split the defense and break in on Sabres goalie Scott Wedgewood. He faked left then slid the puck between the pipe and Wedgewood’s right pad.
The Sabres scored their own power play goal just under two minutes later to retake the lead.
This time three big names in the lineup connected on the play. Sam Reinhart, who resigned with the team on a two-year, $7.3 million contract a week ago, scored with assists from Eichel and this year’s number one overall draft pick Rasmus Dahlin.
Just over a minute later, Columbus tied the game again. Artemi Panarin circled in the offensive zone then dished a pass to Liam Foudy, who found Adam Clendening for a tap in down low.
Columbus took the lead for good with a power play goal with 13:29 left in the game. Panarin fired a low shot from the right point for his second point of the night, with assists to Duclair and Prapavessis.
The team scored again on a power play with 11:05 left, this time it was Kevin Stenlund who lit the lamp when he took a feed from Panarin, drew the puck in and away from the defense then went high stick side from the left circle for the score.
“It was fun for sure,” said Clendening after the game. “The crowd was going the whole time. It helps to have all the kids around. You can tell they love the game.”
It was a return to the Mohawk Valley for Clendening, who played in 11 games for the Utica Comes during the 2014-15 season.
Korpisalo said it reminded him of “back home” in Finland in the rinks he grew up in. “It’s awesome.”
“I love playing on ice like that. It’s more like the ice I grew up with,” said Reinhart after the game.
Nelson said the team watched the classic hockey movie “Slap Shot” earlier in the day to capture the feeling of old school hockey in smaller rinks. Some parts of the movie were shot in the Clinton Arena.