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JJ Peterka is already a 'big part' of Sabers' success while living NHL dreams

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VANCOUVER – In Germany, JJ Peterka’s parents, Dennis and Natalie, are always up early and staying up late to watch their son fulfill his NHL dreams with the Sabers.

And when Pieterka gets off the ice in Buffalo or elsewhere, the 20-year-old winger knows he’ll get congratulatory texts and phone calls from his biggest supporters.

Pieterka’s insatiable desire to improve in all areas of his game led to an impressive start to his rookie season with the Rochester Americans.

“They always find a way to look,” he beamed, telling the Buffalo News, explaining their dedication from all over the world. ”

They’ve had a lot to cheer for. Just seven games into his NHL career, Peterka came out on Sunday with his third-most points (4) among all rookies, and Minnesota defended his Wild against his Cullen against his Addison. He was just two behind.

Pieterka’s season-opening four-game scoring streak tied Victor Olofsson’s mark in 2019-20 for the longest rookie record in franchise history. The Sabers expected Peterka to make a successful transition from the American Hockey League to the NHL. That was especially true when management, players, and coaches saw Calder in his Cup playoffs in the spring of 2020 with a great performance as the Rochester Americans selected him in the second round of the 2020 draft.

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However, no one expected Piecha to make an immediate impact on the league’s youngest team. He has 2 goals and 4 points with a plus 1 rating in 4 games. His role will certainly expand as he gains experience.

Peterka is averaging 12:21 ice time per game and coach Don Granato has yet to use him on a power play. And while there will be tough times throughout the 82-game season, Peterka has adapted quickly at every level he’s climbed in his career.

Sabers defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, who played alongside Peterka in Rochester, said, “I think one thing about him is that he doesn’t wait to get comfortable. That’s a good thing.” He can jump in and make the plays that a lot of players can’t do, he can make those plays, and he’ll just go out there and play that game. But it really elevates him.”

Peterka’s excitable nature quickly endeared her to her teammates. After scoring his first career NHL goal in the Sabers’ season-opener against Ottawa, out of excitement and disbelief, he accidentally dropped the taunt in a post-game interview. He doesn’t take himself too seriously either, and isn’t shy about joking with his most experienced teammates between practices.

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But Pieerka also has the intensity that has driven them from Austrian junior hockey to the best league in the world. This was on display for his fans to see at the end of the club’s third period in his 5-1 victory over the Sabers in Vancouver on Sunday. After being stopped tip-in by Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko, a frustrated Pieterma slammed his stick as he returned to the bench. At the time, it didn’t matter to him that Buffalo had a 4-1 lead on him.

Sabers Center’s Casey Mittelstadt, only 23 years old and playing in his 200th NHL game, saw the reaction as he giggled on the bench and half-jokingly grabbed Piecha’s stick in frustration. interrupted the action.

“He’s hilarious,” Mittelstadt said with a laugh. “Good to see. You want to piss everyone off. You want someone who wants to score. You want someone who wants to play. We all knew he was a good player, but to get off to such a hot start, he played all over the rink. But he’s also shown a lot of play on defense.”

Pieterka teamed with center Dylan Cozens and winger Vinny Hinostroza to form one of the Sabers’ most productive forward lines over the past three games. The combined nine points helped the club get off to a perfect start on a four-game road trip. I’m here.

Hinostroza is the latest addition to that line, while Cozens and Peterka have been skating together since the beginning of training camp this month. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the group went 5-5 and he created six dangerous scoring chances, but he allowed only two. Meanwhile, Peterka leads the team in individual shot quality (3rd), risky scoring chances (2nd), shot differential on ice (1st) and share of shot quality (2nd). Ranked in the top 3. He also has a shot percentage of 28.6%, which ranks him third on the team.

Cozens and Peterka are a dangerous combination of speed, skill and net drive.

“He’s a great player,” Cozens said. “He’s very easy to play with. He works hard and gives back a lot of pucks. So that’s good for me. When he fights like that and gets the puck back, He’s good at creating space and giving us attacking and scoring chances.”

As the regular season began, there was an abrupt change in Pieterka’s game. He started slowly in training camp, showing signs of hesitation and losing too many pack fights in forechecks. It’s common for even experienced and talented forwards to have slow starts after a long offseason. There is no way to simulate the increased pace of play when transitioning from summer skating to intense practice and preseason games.

However, Peterka made progress in the final period of five preseason games to earn a spot on the team. He started winning more fights on the forecheck and started playing in the pack under pressure.

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“He’s very slippery in the pack,” added Fitzgerald. “He can shake off a hit and slide off of you. As a D-Man, it’s frustrating to think he’s there, but he’ll let you slip right through.”

When Buffalo traded up and made their selection, Pieterka, the 34th overall drafted, is very confident with young players and knows how to not let that conviction waver. He learned last season at Rochester that he can thrive on both ends of the ice. Even with difficult plays and shifts, Peterka sticks to the positive moments rather than the ones she wants to fix. It didn’t take long for him to realize he belonged in Buffalo.

His goal on opening night came against top young player Tim Statzl, who was Piecha’s teammate at the IIHF World Junior Championships. It was the kind of moment he envisioned a long time ago.While enjoying all that he has experienced so far, he is determined to make an even greater impact.

“It’s just unreal,” he grinned. “That’s what I’ve dreamed of all my life. And it’s just wonderful to be alive. I’m enjoying every second.”

The Sabers recalled defenseman Cale Craig from Rochester on Sunday as Matthias Samuelsson recovered from injury. Krug, 24, has his three assists in his five games with Amerx. Samuelson was placed on injured reserve, making room for Cragh.

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