Portland, ME — It’s been a whirlwind journey for forward Luke Adam as three days, and nine hours of sleep later he was back on the ice practicing with the Portland Pirates.
Adam, 20, made his NHL debut last night in Philadelphia, PA with the Buffalo Sabres in a 6-3 loss after being called up from Portland late Monday night.
Adam played a little over 14 minutes in the game and had a couple of opportunities to score including on his first shift, playing alongside former Pirate Tyler Ennis and Mike Grier.
The nerves were there for the St. John’s, NL native prior to playing the game, but he credits his linemates for helping him over any lingering butterflies.
“I was pretty nervous before the game,” said Adam. “I wasn’t as bad as I thought I’d be, but I was still nervous. (Grier) sent me up with a great pass on my first shift of the game, and that kind of settled me down a bit. It would have been nice to bury it.”
Prior to the game, Adam was running on adrenaline after he tossed and turned all night only getting about five hours of the sleep before his 7am flight out of the Portland.
Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen gave him the news around 8:30pm that he was heading to Buffalo after informing him earlier in the day that he should be on standby.
“It was exciting,” Adam said. “As a kid, it’s a dream come true.”
“Dino called around Monday afternoon and said there was a chance and I needed to be ready. He ended up calling around 8:30pm and said I flight the next morning.”
Adam arrived in time to skate with the Sabres. His objective was to just absorb the experience and apply what he learned in his short time in Portland as well as during preseason.
In eight games, Adam has five goals and five assists with the Pirates and has already been named AHL Rookie of the Week.
“It was a bit quicker, bit faster, but I just needed to go out and play my game and keep it simple,” Adam said. “I was pretty happy with how my preseason went. I knew I was just going to come and try to build on it (in Portland). I can’t say enough for Kevin Dineen and Eric Weinrich have thought me so far.
“They’ve really given me a great opportunity here. I’m just trying to take advantage of that opportunity.”
While the Sabres headed to Atlanta, Adam stayed behind for another early morning flight back to Portland. He knew this would only be for one game because Rob Niedermayer was in Buffalo to be with his wife, who gave birth to a baby girl on Monday.
Still, despite being sent down, Adam was back at the Portland Ice Arena with his fellow Pirates, practicing on his normal line with Mark Mancari and Matt Ellis, while having a big smile on face.
“I haven’t had much sleep,” he said, “maybe five hours on Monday and four (hours) last night.” I got back (to Portland) around 9:30am, and right from the airport to the rink.”
His teammates and coaching staff in Portland noticed the effort made by the rookie.
“I thought he showed very well,” said Dineen. “He played a real solid game and he was noticeable.”
“What (we) liked is the enthusiasm he brought to practice today. I think what (we) like was how genuinely happy his teammates were to see him get called up and certainly to have him back.”