Jake Sanderson makes NHL debut for Ottawa Senators – The Rink Live

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Jake Sanderson should have made his NHL debut last spring.

A hand injury he suffered during the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs ended any chance of that.

Sanderson had multiple surgeries on his hand, sat out for the spring and summer, but finally got his opportunity Thursday night.

Sanderson, who starred at UND for two seasons, made his NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators against the Buffalo Sabres in KeyBank Center. He played 22 minutes, 21 seconds for the Senators in a 4-1 loss.

“I felt like I got my feet under me as the game went on, just making plays,” Sanderson said. “I thought Travis (Hamonic) was great on my right side, so I have him to thank for that. Like I said, you can always get better and I’ll take away things from this game.”

The left-handed shooting defenseman was second on the team in time on ice, only behind defenseman Thomas Chabot. Sanderson was used on both special teams units. He played 2:07 on the power play and 4:06 shorthanded.

“I felt like it was a power play/penalty kill game, so I was just kind of getting thrown out there whenever,” Sanderson said. “I’m ready whenever Cap (assistant coach Jack Capuano) wants me to go over the boards.”

Sanderson became the 109th former UND player to play in an NHL game. He’s the third UND player to debut for Ottawa in the last 18 months, joining Shane Pinto and Jacob Bernard-Docker — both of whom played their first NHL games in April 2021.

Pinto also was in the lineup Thursday night, playing his first NHL game since November 2021, when he suffered a season-ending injury.

Ottawa next plays at Toronto on Saturday.

Sanderson will make his home debut Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins.

Sanderson was the No. 5 overall pick by the Senators in 2020 — the second-highest drafted UND player of all-time behind Jonathan Toews, who went No. 3 in 2006. Sanderson played in the COVID-impacted 2020-21 season as a freshman, suiting up in his first college game in the NCHC Pod.

Sanderson had a chance to turn pro after his freshman season, but opted to come back for another year. He was voted an alternate captain on the Fighting Hawks and was sensational when healthy, but illnesses and injuries plagued his season.

He had two bouts of illness — once with COVID — and multiple injuries that kept him out for nearly half the season. He missed almost the entire playoffs because of the hand injury.

Sanderson signed with Ottawa after UND’s season ended with a loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA regionals. He finished his college career with 41 points in 45 games.

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