By Brandon Koch
Buffalo native Marcus Foligno was a surprise addition to the Canadian World Junior team back in December. And after his emergence with Team Canada in the championships at HSBC Arena, Foligno wants to do all he can to get back on that ice for the hometown Sabres.
“Making (Team Canada) was obviously an eye opener and something special for me,” Foligno said Wednesday following on-ice workouts at the Sabres’ development camp at Dwyer Arena. “I was happy with the year and just want to keep building on it.”
Foligno, the son of former Sabres captain Mike Foligno and brother of current Ottawa forward Nick Foligno, signed an entry-level deal with the Sabres in late May. Though he’s expected to begin his season in Rochester, the third-year development camp veteran has his eyes set on staying in Buffalo.
“I’m going to work hard at training camp and just kind of continue to build confidence,” he said. “Hopefully things go smoothly and I stick out at training camp. I’m looking forward to getting to training camp and getting a spot, for sure.”
Foligno, 19, is expected to grow even more into his already 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, but understands it could take a while to adjust to the speed of the pro game. He scored 22 goals to finish with 59 points in 47 games for the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves last season.
He said he understands it may take some time to develop in the minors, but he’s willing to put in the work.
“I don’t want to think that’s the way, but if that’s the learning curve I have to take, then so be it,” Foligno said. “Rochester is pretty exciting news here in Buffalo country, knowing that the AHL team is in Rochester,” he added. “I think everyone is excited.”
Foligno said a strong offseason last year with the Sabres and a season highlighted by the World Junior Championships helped boost his confidence. The forward was a physical presence with the red and white at HSBC Arena, with punishing hits along the wall and down low to outshine fellow Sabres prospect Zack Kassian during the tournament.
“I think I’m fitting into my body, growing into my body more and getting up to speed and really taking care of myself out there,” he said. “I have a lot to improve, I know that. But at the same time, as years go by and days go by, it’s about building that confidence and becoming a better hockey player.”
Last season in Sudbury he excelled with more responsibility as a leader, despite the fact that his father left his coach/general manager job to become an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks.
This summer he expects more development around the net with hopes to some day fill the needs in Buffalo for a strong, power forward.
“It is new stuff that they’re trying to incorporate here and build into our heads and make us realize that the Sabres’ system is always improving,” Foligno said, “We have to get used to it because we’re the future here for the Buffalo Sabres.”