St. Joe’s Gilbert plays in first NHL game

De­fense­man part of Chicago’s SO win

The Buffalo News - - NHL - By Lance Lysowski Sports re­porter Miguel Rodriguez contributed to this story.

Den­nis Gilbert has be­come the latest Buf­falo na­tive to play in an NHL game.

Gilbert, a 22-year-old grad­u­ate of St. Joe’s, was re­called from Rock­ford by the Chicago Black­hawks and made his de­but Wed­nes­day night against the St. Louis Blues.

Wear­ing No. 39, Gilbert played 12 minutes, 46 sec­onds on de­fense and had a two-minute mi­nor penalty. The Black­hawks beat the Blues in a shootout, 4-3, on Jonathan Toews’ goal.

Gilbert had five goals with nine as­sists and a mi­nus-7 rat­ing in 59 AHL games this season.

The Black­hawks were elim­i­nated from play­off con­tention Tues­day and have two games re­main­ing.

Gilbert signed a three-year en­try-level con­tract with the Black­hawks last May af­ter com­plet­ing his junior season at Notre Dame, where he had four goals and 10 points in 39 games for the Fight­ing Ir­ish, who lost in the NCAA ti­tle game. He was third-round draft pick in 2015.

He fin­ished his col­le­giate ca­reer with six goals and 42 points in 116 games. He was named Hockey East’s Best De­fen­sive De­fense­man as a sopho­more.

As a high school player, Gilbert made a ver­bal com­mit­ment to Ni­a­gara while with St. Joe’s. Af­ter lead­ing the Ma­raud­ers to a state cham­pi­onship in 2013, he opted to play ju­niors with the Buf­falo Jr. Sabres. He then moved on to the USHL’s Chicago Steel. More promi­nent hockey pro­grams saw him and he gave up his schol­ar­ship of­fer and chose Notre Dame from among mul­ti­ple op­tions.

“I had a goal, play in the NHL, and a dream, win a Stan­ley Cup, Olympic gold – all those things,” Gilbert told The News last spring af­ter sign­ing. “Every­one thinks about it, but you have to have a process that you’re fo­cused on. I know the Bills coach talks about ‘The Process,’ and peo­ple joke about it a lit­tle bit, but you have to have a plan or your chance will pass you by.”

The last St. Joe’s grad­u­ate be­lieved to have ap­peared in an NHL game was Cole Sch­nei­der dur­ing the 2016-17 season with the Buf­falo Sabres.

Gilbert played two sea­sons at St. Joe’s, earn­ing Ni­a­gara Cup cham­pi­onship game MVP hon­ors in 2013. He scored in the state fi­nal, a 3-0 win over St. An­thony’s (L.I.). He also served as quar­ter­back for the football team dur­ing his time at St. Joe’s.

“As­muchasweknewhe­was a spe­cial player, his work ethic and de­sire to com­pete re­ally stood out,” St. Joe’s coach Rich Crozier said. “Our en­tire pro­gram is ab­so­lutely thrilled. … To have a stu­dent-ath­lete work so hard to­ward a goal and to suc­cess­fully achieve it ... we are so proud of him and happy for his fam­ily.”

In Wed­nes­day’s game, Patrick Kane set a ca­reer high in points with a goal and as­sist, giv­ing him 107 for the season. Toews also had a goal in reg­u­la­tion time, giv­ing him 35 for the season.

The Blues missed a chance to tie Nashville and Win­nipeg atop the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion.

Bor­gen to Rochester

With a sur­plus of healthy de­fense­men, the Buf­falo Sabres as­signed Will Bor­gen to Rochester fol­low­ing an op­tional prac­tice Wed­nes­day in KeyBank Cen­ter.

Bor­gen, 22, was a healthy scratch Tues­day against Nashville and recorded a mi­nus-5 rat­ing in four games with the Sabres. He will re­join the Amerks in time for their week­end home­and-home se­ries against Syra­cuse, which be­gins Friday night in Blue Cross Arena.

Ras­mus Ris­to­lainen re­turned to the Sabres’ lineup Tues­day, while Matt Hun­wick is back at prac­tice and Matt Ten­nyson will be avail­able as an ex­tra de­fense­man Thurs­day against Ottawa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.