Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
After facing 51 shots against Team Finland while allowing only three goals against two days ago at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Russia, Team Hungary goalie Adam Vay faced another daunting challenge against a strong, but not elite, Team USA today.
With a vociferous group of fans cheering their Hungarian team joyously, Vay rose to the occasion and stymied the Americans in the first period while stopping all 15 shots against, many of them prime scoring opportunities, before the roof caved in in the second. Nick Foligno (CLB) would break Vay's spell on Team USA early in the second period on the powerplay. After taking a stretch pass in the neutral zone from defenseman Chris Wideman (OTT,) Foligno streaked in on a breakaway and rifled a shot top-shelf, glove-side to put Team USA up 1-0. Eighteen seconds later, Buffalo's Hudson Fasching sent a pass from below the goal line to Vince Hinostroza (CHI) who was camped out in the slot with no one around him and he promptly buried it. Later in the second period Dylan Larkin (DET) would the score to 3-0 on an end-to-end rush that finished with him banking one in off of Vay's leg.
Team Hungary, as expected, was totally outclassed and overmatched and the only reason it wasn't 7-0 through two periods was because of Vay. The Americans pumped 25 shots on him through two periods and they completely controlled the game. They allowed Hungary a total of four shots on goal through two periods with only two of them coming at even strength. In fact late in the game with Team USA up 5-0, the announcers focused upon the possibility of Hungary breaking the record for the least number of shots on goal (7) in a tournament game.
With only five shots on goal late in the third Hungary was able to that side step-that dubious distinction and finished with eight shots on goal, one more than the previous record, thanks to a late power play. They even scored on the powerplay which put their fans in a rather celebratory mood despite the impending 5-1 final score.
The 6'5" 229 lb. Vay was poised for much of the game despite the onslaught but it got to the point in the latter half of the third period when he was just exhausted. The 22 yr. old let in two goals, the last of which squeaked through his pads and he showed the wear of facing 88 shots in two games by laying sprawled on the ice for a brief moment after that Connor Murphy (ARI) goal made the score 5-0 with 4:40 remaining.
It would be safe to say that Vay is on some team's radar after his last two performances and maybe he piqued the Sabres interest as well.
Buffalo's goaltending depth chart took a bit of a hit with at season's end with 23 yr. old Andrey Makarov moving on from the organization and the expected departure of goalie Chad Johnson, who appeared in 45 games for the Sabres last season. At one point, with every goalie healthy last season, there were too many goaltenders as the Rochester Americans were juggling three of them. However, GM Tim Murray will need to do a little work to keep the pipeline stocked.
As of now there isn't a back-up to Robin Lehner on the big club unless they re-sign Johnson or restricted free agent Nathan Lieuwen, who will be 25 in August, and move him up to the big club as backup. Twenty-two year old Linus Ullmark fared well with the Sabres in the first half of the season but struggled mightily at times in Rochester during the second half of his first pro season in North America and it may take some time for him to iron out consistency issues. He'll more than likely be doing that with the Amerks next season.
In the pipeline after that is soon to be 23 yr. old Jason Kasdorf who was just recently signed out of college and looks to have the inside track as Ullmark's backup in Rochester. The Sabres also have 21 yr. old Cal Petersen, who will be a junior at Notre Dame next season and 20 yr. old Jonas Johansson who has been working his way up in the Swedish professional leagues and isn't expected to come over to North America for at least another couple of years.
With a multitude of draft picks in the 2016 Entry Draft, the Sabres we can pretty much bet the farm that they'll nab a goaltender and with 12 picks all totaled they might even draft two. There will also be plenty of time to grab a back-up goalie for Lehner this off season as well. And the cool part of having yet another tier in the Elmira Jackals as an affiliate is that they can bring over a goalie like Vay and put him on that first developmental rung at the pro level.
Vay most certainly raised some eyebrows these last two games and may have at least got himself an invite to a development camp this summer. He has the size Sabres GM Tim Murray covets, he works the butterfly real well and he seems to be able to regain his focus after allowing a goal, all traits that might earn him an opportunity with an NHL club. And who knows, he could end up being the first Hungarian in the NHL someday.