Power, from nearby Mississauga, Ontario, skated almost 20 minutes in front of friends and family. He was swarmed by them afterward, many wearing his new No. 25 Buffalo jersey.
It indeed has been a long journey for Power these last few months. After being selected by the Sabres, he joined back with his teammates at the University of Michigan in a quest for a national title.
He took a break from the season to join Team Canada for the World Junior Championships in his native land, but that tournament was stopped prematurely amid COVID-19 concerns.
He later joined a different Team Canada in February, this one for the Olympic Games in Beijing before finally rejoining his Wolverines teammates in time to finish the Big Ten season.
Michigan won the Big Ten tournament, and was the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, but fell to Denver in overtime in the Frozen Four’s national semifinals last week in Boston.
From there, Power, 19, officially signed his deal with the Sabres, left the Wolverines once and for all, and on Tuesday night, he began what many believe will be an All-Star caliber career with Buffalo.
Power is not alone in the quick-rush, college-to-the-NHL path this week. Also on Tuesday, three days after winning the national title with a fully caged helmet for Denver, Bobby Brink played for the Philadelphia Flyers in a loss to the Washington Capitals.
Brink and Power were among five players making their NHL debut Tuesday night, in fact, fresh off the end of a hectic college season. Matty Beniers became the first Seattle draft pick to play for the expansion franchise when the Kraken visited the Calgary Flames, and Arizona received a double debut of Beijing Olympics with American Nathan Smith and Canadian Jack McBain in the lineup against New Jersey.
Brink couldn’t sit still two hours before warmups and couldn’t stop smiling and fidgeting with his stick in the seconds before he went down the tunnel before his Philadelphia teammates. The accomplishment of moving so quickly from the Frozen Four to the pros with a handful of others wasn’t lost on him.
“It’s definitely cool seeing other guys playing and making their debuts,” said Brink, who was the nation’s leading scorer on the way to helping Denver win its ninth national title. “I imagine their situation is pretty similar to mine. It’s pretty special for them, too.”
“A guy that I watched a lot,” he said. “It’s definitely a really cool moment to be playing against a legend and one of the greatest players to ever play the game.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.