Jan 13, 2022
By Suzie Cool
After 35 games in the American Hockey League over the span of two seasons, it finally happened for Rochester Americans rookie forward Jack Quinn. On Tuesday night as the Buffalo Sabres took on the Tampa Bay Lightning at the KeyBank Center, Quinn became the 101st AHL player to make his National Hockey League debut this season.
As the game ensued, Quinn made it clear that he was ready for this moment. Logging 16:30 of total ice time, Quinn led the Sabres with a team-high three shots and six shot attempts, had multiple chances to score and put himself in some really good spots.
While his teammates watched from the seats of KeyBank Center, and at home, Amerks head coach Seth Appert admitted that Quinn was truly a bright spot in the Sabres’ eventual 6-1 loss against the Lightning.
“I thought Jack played very good. I thought he handled the moment like we expected he would, he looked calm, he looked confident, he looked like himself out there.”
Appert then went on to add, “Realistically he could’ve had himself one or two goals. He put himself in some really good spots and I thought he was a real bright spot on a night that wasn’t great for the team.”
Even Quinn admitted that no one wants to lose a game like the Sabres did on Tuesday night, however, he still thinks he played well in his debut.
“You know you don’t want to lose the game like that, they were a good team and they outplayed us pretty bad, but I thought, personally, I played pretty well. I’m happy with how I did.”
Additionally, Appert thinks Quinn needs just a little more time to grow and gain more confidence in order to find that first NHL marker.
“I think as he just continues to grow and gain more confidence and have more time here and there, some of those chances that maybe he rushed a little bit will end up in the back of the net.”
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 11, 2022
One of those teammates that made it out to Quinn’s debut was that of Amerks forward Ryan Scarfo. Accompanying Scarfo on the night was defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, forward Andrew Oglevie, goaltender Michael Houser and assistant equipment manager Carl Hirner. Both Scarfo and Samuelsson were sporting Quinn jerseys, which had them featured on multiple social platforms throughout the NHL.
Although Scarfo mentioned he only got an additional 80 followers on his platforms from all the social buzz, he felt it was important to go and watch Quinn’s debut because of the culture that’s being built here in Rochester.
“I think it just kind of shows the culture and the environment that we have down here,” commented Scarfo when asked why it was so important to see Quinn’s debut in person. “We just have such a tight group down here and Quinner has kind of been one of my close buddies and we just wanted to go and support him.”
And it was just as important for Quinn to see his teammates in the stands as it was for them to be there.
“It was special. I think it speaks to what kind of guys they are, what kind of teammates they are. For them to drive down, it was pretty cool to see them when I came out there.”
And for a coach like Appert who’s extremely focused on culture, it was neat for him to see his team come together in such a unique way for one of the organization’s top prospects.
“As a coach it’s neat to see your teammates, your players, treat their teammates that way. To have that much love and to not think that they’re too cool to put on Jack Quinn’s jersey and support their good friend, I think that’s really neat.”
Not to forget that just like Appert, Scarfo thought the rookie forward was as comfortable and confident in the NHL as he looks when he plays here in the Flower City.
“I thought he was great, honestly. He looked comfortable and confident, and I think that all kind of came from down here. He’s having such a good season and it was nice for him to kind of get that out of the way.”
The best tradition 😁
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 11, 2022
Scarfo then finished by adding, “You know, he earned that opportunity. It wasn’t like they just gave him the game, or something like that, he definitely earned it and I was really proud to see him out there.”
Following his NHL debut, Quinn was reassigned to the Amerks the next day and suited up in their sixth contest against the Utica Comets this season. Quinn went on to have his first four-point night in his pro career with a goal and three assists in Rochester’s 7-6 win.
Whether the game would’ve been high scoring or not, Quinn was just excited to be back with his teammates that he’s been alongside this year.
“I mean, it’s just a blast to be here with my teammates that I’ve been with all year. High scoring or not high scoring, it’s fun competing with them night in and night out.
So far on the year with the Amerks, Quinn has appeared in 21 games, notching 30 points while becoming just the second Amerk this season to reach that mark and eighth player in the league. Quinn’s 13 goals rank second amongst all rookie skaters in the league along with his 30 points. Additionally, Quinn earned the league’s Rookie of the Month honors for October when he had already surpassed his point total from the shortened 2020-21 season in just six games with 10 points on five goals and five assists as well as four multi-point efforts.
Continually proving that Quinn is always striving to be great exactly where he’s at. And this is something that Appert and upper management have tried to instill in their prospects over the last two seasons.
“He’s all in and his mind is where his feet are,” said Appert when asked about Quinn being focused on being great where he’s at. “It doesn’t mean he’s not motivated by getting to Buffalo and trying to be a great NHL player, he is. I talk to all of our prospects about that. That does need to be your motivation, but you can’t live there mentally every day because if you’re not checked in mentally where your feet are, you’re not going to be getting better and you’re wasting days and opportunities to prove. We implore that to all of our prospects and Jack lives it at a high level.”
It’s hard to say how long Quinn will continue to bounce back and forth between Rochester and Buffalo, but for however long he’s here, we know exactly where his mind is at.