The Buffalo Sabres hosted nearly 15,000 fans at First Niagara Center this past week as the team held its annual summer development camp. The week consisted of four public on-ice practice sessions, highlighted by an intra-squad "Blue and White" scrimmage on Tuesday, and a three-on-three tournament Friday. Tuesday's scrimmage attracted more than 8,700 fans, and the entire week of camp drew record crowds for the team's annual camp, which has been held at First Niagara Center since 2011.
"Since we moved development camp to the First Niagara Center three years ago, it has quickly become a signature off-season event for our fans," said Sabres President Ted Black. "There is so much interest and excitement surrounding the Sabres prospects right now, especially with our present and future high draft picks, and the moves that Tim (Murray) has made over the last five months."
Forty-one Sabres prospects attended camp, with 39 participating in the on-ice portions, to complete the week of on-ice drills and practice sessions, power-skating workshops, as well as off-ice conditioning and training. The team also participated in an off-site team-building activity at Houghton College Wednesday.
The goals of the camp were to show prospective players the fundamental ideas of the Sabres' system and expose them to the conditioning programs of an NHL player. The camp also provided the Sabres' hockey department an opportunity to closely evaluate the Sabres' highly touted prospects.
"As an organization, we've really tried to ramp up our efforts with development camp over the past few seasons," Black said. "It's a chance for us to meet the ever-growing interest that our fans have in our prospects, and provide some hockey entertainment during the summer months. It's also a great chance for us to showcase Buffalo and this hockey-crazed area to these young players, many of whom are experiencing the city for the first time."
Many of the Sabres prospects will return to the ice at First Niagara Center later this year as training camp opens this fall in preparation for the 2014-15 NHL season.