On Friday, April 8, former RPI goalie Jason Kasdorf made his NHL debut in a start for the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Kasdorf played reasonably well in his first professional appearance, stopping 26 of the 30 shots he faced. However, the game ended 4-1 in favor of the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. It may not have been the ideal start to his professional career, but the game was a valuable experience for Kasdorf.
He got off to a strong start for the Sabres, stopping the first ten shots he faced. However, late in the first period, Blue Jackets left-wing Matt Calvert found the back of the net with a blast from the left faceoff circle that hit the far goalpost and careened into the net.
In the second period, Kasdorf didn’t see a lot of action. The Sabres managed eighteen shots on goal, while the Blue Jackets had just six. But, out of those six shots, two of them got past Kasdorf and into the Sabres’ net. On the first goal of the period, the Sabres gave up the puck down low on the right side of their defensive zone. They then played sloppy defense, leaving Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno wide open on the left side of the net to beat Kasdorf.
The second goal of the period came off a three-on-two. Defenseman Dalton Prout ripped a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat Kasdorf high on the glove side, making the score three to one.
The Blue Jackets last goal came with just under five minutes gone in the third period, when the Sabres defense again let Kasdorf down. With the puck behind the net, Blue Jackets forward Brandon Saad was left completely uncovered just in front of the goal crease. Saad received a quick pass and put the puck past Kasdorf before he could react. On the play Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was out of position. Not only did he not cover Saad, he stood directly in front of Kasdorf, blocking the goaltender’s view of the puck.
Two out of the four goals that Kasdorf let in were stoppable. That being said, it would be unrealistic to expect Kasdorf to play flawlessly in his first professional game. The speed of an NHL game is much faster than a college game, and the shots players take are a lot harder. As Kasdorf begins his professional career, it’ll take some time for him to get used to his new, more powerful environment. After the game, which was the Sabres’ second to last game of the season, Kasdorf talked about how he was thankful for the ice time because he now knows what he needs to improve on over the summer. It will be exciting to see what he can accomplish next season after preparing and getting acclimated to his new surroundings this summer.