The Age of Owen Power arrives at the Buffalo Sabers

Buffalo Saber Defender Owen Power He succeeds or fails based on his ability to make split-second decisions. Like picking a bag of popcorn on a speedball at home in a recent game at the Toronto Blue Jays.

He chose bad.

“It was kind of an embarrassment I didn’t understand,” Bauer said.

Bauer and his girlfriend Victoria sat behind left field when Jays Catcher was Danny Janssen Hit the playing field over the wall and into the stands.

“She went and got us some popcorn,” Bauer said. “On the way down, I was walking into my seat and I heard the bat of a bat. I was thinking there was no chance for him to come to me. But suddenly everyone in my section was standing with their arms raised. Up and I saw a ball coming towards me. I had popcorn in one hand and …Well, I tried more to save myself than to catch her because she was coming too fast.”

Another fan rushed the ball before the 6-foot-6 NHL rookie prepared to grab it. Fans who watched the match noticed it The force was near the ball But they did not bring it. Canadian sports networks will notice the same.

“I was lucky it wasn’t shown much,” Bauer said.

Unfortunately, the cameras caught this slip but not the ultimate victory. In early September, the power couple returned to the stands in Toronto. A ball sailed into the crowd, and again headed for their section. This time, they left with a keepsake – Victoria caught it.

“She beats me 1-0,” he said with a laugh. ‘But she was pissed off about it: ‘Of course, it doesn’t show on TV. “

There will be plenty of cameras focused on Owen Power this season, as the first overall pick in the 2021 draft will begin his first full campaign with the Sabers. His success will be dated to what many expect from a Calder Cup nomination, but he remains a junior defensive man – and a teammate. Kyle Okposu Because of that, Bao’er’s failures might increase, he said.

“Your mistakes are magnified. Because if you make mistakes as a defensive man, you give up an opportunity,” said Okposo, who is entering his 16th season in the National Hockey League. “A lot of times in this league, they’re going to make you pay for it. As a striker, if you make a mistake, a lot of times they are on the ice where you can get other people back and those mistakes can get you covered. Especially, you hear about those who show up in The video when you’re a younger striker. It’s not always as public as the man of defense. You have to learn to be sound in position because everyone is so smart in the NHL.”

It’s something Power has already noticed, though, as he played only eight games for the Cypresses last season after leaving the University of Michigan.

“You’re going to move on from playing against guys who aren’t as skilled, strong or smart as they are [in the NHL]. You have to play against the best players in the world.”

And starting this season, he will.

Strength is born in 2002 in Mississauga, Ontario. Until this carbon date: Cypress’s leading defender was on average ice time that season Alexey ZetnikAnd they were wearing the red and black “goat head” shirt that will return this season as an alternative sweater.

It’s a look ahead of Power fans in the NHL.

“But it looks great,” he said.

He grew up competing in a variety of sports, including box lacrosse, where he won three national titles. But hockey beat Bauer. He played Triple-A hockey in Canada before jumping to USHL’s Chicago Steel in 2018, two seasons with the University of Michigan followed. These Wolverines teams have been notable for the depth of their potential talent in the NHL, including Brendan Brisson (Vegas Golden Knights), Kent Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Matty Pennerswhich was named second overall in 2021 by the Seattle Kraken.

The force could have made the jump to the NHL after his first season in Michigan. The draw with that group and the pursuit of a national title proved too strong for him. Bauer said he has no regrets about staying in Michigan, despite the Wolverine losing in the semifinals of the Frozen Four.

He said, “It helped me a lot to develop. Not only as a player, but as a person. It was the right decision and it will be really beneficial.”

Also useful: Getting a chance to represent Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, after the NHL refused to let players fill out those rosters due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the regular season schedule. Some of his Michigan teammates joined him there.

“It was an unreal experience,” said Penners, who played for Team USA in Beijing. “Being able to do this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Now, making the next step together is so special.”

Power said the Olympics helped make the next step easier.

“Playing against the pros and being in this atmosphere where there is a lot at stake,” he said. “It helped us mature a little bit. For me, it helped me a lot.”

The power jumped to the NHL after that, scoring two assists in eight games as Saber. He is expected to score more than 20 goals in a full season, which is a total of only three emerging players – Brian Leach (25), Barry Beck (22) and Dion Vanoff (20) – He made history in the NHL.

“I don’t know about that,” Bauer said. “I hope I can get that many, but who knows?”

He was delighted with his National Hockey League debut, which gave Buffalo fans a glimpse into the future and gave Power a taste of career.

“I think everyone did a really good job of making me feel comfortable,” said Bauer. “Everyone there was really welcome.” “But the biggest player in that for me is Okposo. He really helped me. He was always there when I had questions about the league. He’s someone everyone can count on.”

Kyle Okposu He saw a lot in his six seasons at Buffalo. Four coaches. Three general managers. The Jack Eichel Era comes and goes. Zero playoffs.

How does he feel about the Sabers team that Owen Power has joined?

“Feeling good about it,” Okposo said. “It took me a long time to get here.”

Okposo had just finished skiing in Buffalo and was speaking from the locker room. When he looked around the stalls, he saw only one name that had been with the team as long as he had been there: Striker Zymjus Jergenson.

“I remember my first year here and how much hope and optimism I had in this season,” he said. “It gives me great pleasure to see the potential we are heading towards now.” “It doesn’t mean we’re there yet, because there is still a long way to go. But the building blocks are there.”

Strength is one of those building blocks. As with the other young players, Okposo felt a responsibility to share what he had learned.

“He’s a young 19-year-old and a first overall pick. There are different pressures that go along with that, particularly as a defensive man in the NHL,” Okposo said. “I just wanted to make sure that he feels as comfortable as possible this season. I think when you are in a good place mentally off the ice, you will be able to give your best on the ice.”

Off the ice, Bauer thinks a lot about being on the ice. He became infamous among his teammates for watching copious amounts of video on other defensive men. “When you watch some of the best players, you see things they do and then they put them into it [your game]. It’s a copycat. I think it’s good to learn and watch.”

His focus recently has been on three NHL defenders in particular, all of whom are Norris Trophy winners: Victor Hedman From Tampa Bay Lightning, roman joussi From the Nashville Predators and Adam Fox From the New York Rangers. But there is another defense that Okposo likens, and it’s not usually associated with a 6-foot-6 frame.

He has a lot of young people Eric Carlson Okposo said. “Not his full game, but how smooth it is. When Eric was doing things, it was very streamlined. I think Owen has a similar aspect to his gameplay.”

Skate Bower has been praised throughout his trip to the NHL, unlike what would be expected of a defensive man of his size. But there’s another aspect of Power that Okposo loves: his decision making.

“He’s not afraid to do the simple pass,” he said. “When you’re a skilled youngster, a skilled defensive man and a No. 1 pick in general, you have all these expectations on you and there are times when you try to make a tough game.”

The Okposu roommate in college was the first to generally choose: Eric Johnson, who just won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. Okposo states that he gave Johnson a hard time when he ditched the minor play in favor of “always trying to throw some sauce where it doesn’t need to be” in his passes.

“That’s not something Owen does,” said the veteran. “If hard play was around and that was his only game, he would. But if he had a safe choice, he would take it there. I think that’s something unique in his game. It kind of reminds me of someone like Miro Heskanen Where he will play simple and then he will amaze you in different areas.”

Heskinen part From the wave of young NHL defenders with whom Bauer surfs. Avalanche Defender Cal Makarwho won the NHL Rookie of the Year in 2019-20, and Moritz Cider From the Detroit Red Wings, who won it last season, they are also part of that wave.

The Defensemen have not won the Calder Cup in consecutive seasons since 1962-64. They never won it in three of four seasons. Can Owen Power make history?

I laughed it off. “I really don’t think much about it. I just try to show up at the rink every day and try to get better. See what happens from there.”

Expectations are there for Bauer, whether as a rookie or as a regular Saber player. It’s not hard to see the demarcation point of the franchise: Owen Power arrives just as Jack Eichel leaves, having been traded to the Golden Knights last season. One era succumbs to the next in Buffalo.

But Okposo doesn’t see that beyond Eichel Sabers belongs to a single player, even if it’s the first overall pick. He shakes up names like Rasmus DahlenAnd the Alex TouchAnd the Thompson’s crownPeyton Crisps and Dylan Cousinswho will join Power on this list.

“I don’t know who is going to celebrate the new era,” Okposo said. “That’s the thing about our team. That’s where the internal competition will come in, and we’re all going to push each other in a positive way.”

Bauer said he is ready to join this batch. “It’s an amazing group of guys and a real young group,” he said. “I’m excited to get in. Just glad to be a part of it.”

It’s a quick access opportunity to Power that he doesn’t intend to miss.

Even if he was carrying a bag of popcorn.

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