BUFFALO — Don’t fret, Sabres fans. The Foligno jump is coming. It’ll just have to take place following Marcus Foligno’s second goal.
The top prospect planned to honor his father, popular former Sabres captain Mike Foligno, by leaping into the air to celebrate his first big league score.
Mike jumped after about every one of his 355 goals from 1979-94. Marcus’ brother Nick Foligno, a Senators winger, paid homage once as a rookie in 2007.
Only when Marcus Foligno tallied the tying goal late Saturday in Ottawa, he wasn’t sure he had actually scored. It appeared Drew Stafford might’ve knocked the puck past goalie Ben Bishop.
The 20-year-old Foligno, who was born in Buffalo and spent part of his childhood here, couldn’t leap for an assist, right?
“He knew what my mindset was,” Foligno said about his father, who planned to watch his First Niagara Center debut Monday, a 3-2 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens, prior to his third NHL game. “He knew I wanted to do it but it was one of those goals I didn’t know who touched it.
“So you don’t want to celebrate when it’s not your goal like that. I was happy to get that first one out of the way.”
He added: “If I ever score here, I’ll do it in front of the fans.”
The rookie’s being modest. It’s possible the 6-foot-2, 215-pound winger will enjoy a long career here.
On Monday, he skated early on the left side with Tyler Ennis and Thomas Vanek, a surprise addition following a one-game absence (upper body). Stafford replaced Vanek later. Foligno assisted on Ennis’ second-period score, his first NHL helper.
Foligno’s quick progression allowed the Sabres to send youngster Zack Kassian to Vancouver at the trade deadline. General manager Darcy Regier was confident he would replace Kassian’s toughness.