Luke Adam referred to his regular-season NHL debut Tuesday night in Philadelphia as “surreal,” and while his Buffalo Sabres lost 6-3 to the Flyers, the St. John’s native was pleased with his play.
“It was pretty exciting to play in your first NHL game… a dream come true, really,” said Adam who was recalled by Buffalo from Portland Pirates of the AHL.
Adam, skating between veteran Mike Grier and rookie Tyler Ennis for most of the game, didn’t garner any points but he had some pretty good stats, including 17 shifts and 13 and a half minutes of ice time. He won six of seven faceoffs, had two shots on goal, hit the post and picked up a first-period interference penalty.
“I got some good feedback from (coach) Lindy Ruff and (general manager) Darcy Regier after the game,” said Adam.
“I just wanted to do good …to work hard. I was pretty nervous before the game, so I was just trying to keep things simple and not go out of my element too much…just play my game.”
He said a few of the team’s veterans talked to him before the game which helped him relax.
There were obvious adjustments, though.
“It’s definitely a faster-paced game and there was a bit of an adjustment to make to the pace of the game, but that comes with time,” he said.
Adam, who was filling in for Rob Niedermayer whose wife recently gave birth, said he is going back to Portland today.
“I was kind of expecting it, so it’s not a disappointment,” said Adam who is off to a fast start with the Pirates with 10 points in eight games, including five goals which ranks him second in team scoring. He was named the AHL’s Player of the Week after recording a four-point game (2 goals, 2 assists) in his professional debut with Portland Oct. 9.
“It was definitely surreal looking up at Mike Richards or Danny Brier in the faceoff circle. Those guys are some of the best players in the NHL and I guess I got lucky tonight.” - Luke Adam
“I never played more than 10 minutes in the pre-season, so that was a bit of a surprise,” he said of his ice time Tuesday night.
As far as his success in the faceoff circle, Adam said it’s something he’s been working on in practice in the AHL.
“It was definitely surreal looking up at Mike Richards or Danny Brier in the faceoff circle. Those guys are some of the best players in the NHL and I guess I got lucky tonight.”
The Sabres signed the six-foot, 215-pound Kilbride resident to an entry-level contract at the end of last season following a superb Quebec Major Junior Hockey League career with St. John’s, Montreal, and Cape Breton. He scored 113 goals and 220 points in 236 games in four years of junior hockey.
The Sabres drafted Adam in the second round (44th overall) in the 2008 draft. Adam, who played for Team Canada in the 2010 World Junior Championships where he picked up four goals and four assists in six games, was one of the last cuts of training camp this year and registered two goals and three points in four pre-season games.
Adam said every player in the minors wants to believe they belong in the NHL and he feels his game has come a long way in the past couple of years.
“Every guy in the Sabres’ lineup who they drafted spent some time in the minors except one, so they like to season their guys,’ he noted.
“I’ve learned a lot already in eight AHL games and our coaching staff is really helping me get to that next level,” said Adam.
“I’m trying to get better in the AHL and, hopefully, it won’t be long until I’m back up again.”