Devon Levi has played 23 games for Rochester. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres prospect Devon Levi developing in Rochester, ready for playoffs

ROCHESTER – Prior to goalie Devon Levi’s uncharacteristically weak outing, coach Seth Appert said the Americans had the rookie tentatively scheduled to play again less than a day later.

Then after Levi allowed four goals in Friday’s 6-3 home loss to the Belleville Senators, Appert informed the Buffalo Sabres prospect he would be starting Saturday so he could “snap from what happened to prepare for what’s coming.”

“He didn’t perform to his standards on Friday, and he’s going to want to get back in there and do what he did on Saturday,” Appert said following Monday’s practice in Blue Cross Arena.

In his second start in 22 hours, Levi responded well, stopping 20 shots in an 8-2 victory over Belleville, improving his record to 14-6-3 with the Amerks.

Friday marked just the fourth time in the AHL and first time since Feb. 28 that Levi allowed four goals.

Growing up, Levi, 22, learned the importance of putting away poor performances by watching goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Following a bad game, Levi said the New York Rangers legend always responded with “a shutout or an unbelievable performance.”

Levi adopted the mindset he should never “string two bad games in a row, just have a dominant performance.”

“It was great that coach put me back in for the second of a back-to-back,” he said of playing again Saturday. “I could flip the page on the game quick.”

Levi literally tries to flip the page on every game – take lessons from it, good or bad – by writing his thoughts in a journal.

“The bad games are the ones that you can learn from,” he said. “So I go back to my journal, I journal the game and just try to get down like moral of the story type of thing. So it happened for a reason, just try to take something out of it, try to get the emotions out of it. Kind of just look at it more robotic, just look at, ‘What I can do better?’

“If you’re always emotional when you’re winning, losing, then it’s kind of an emotional roller coaster throughout the year.”

Levi has spent the past five months going up and down between Buffalo, where he began the season as the Sabres’ starter, and Rochester. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s emergence as the starting goalie forced the Sabres to send Levi to the AHL for the first time in late November. He has played 23 games for each team.

During his stint with the Sabres last month, he posted terrific numbers – a 1-1-0 record with a 1.78 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage – in three games.

“It was great to know that everything that I did in Rochester and the games and feeling good about my game was able to translate well going up,” said Levi, who has compiled a 2.48 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage with the Amerks. “It was a pretty seamless transition. I just felt like I was playing the game of hockey. I didn’t really feel like I was jumping levels.”

Appert said: “He’s allowed himself to be in the moment in multiple different places in multiple different call-ups and send-downs and that’s not easy to do. I thought was a great sign.”

The 6-foot, 192-pound Levi said his recent play in Buffalo “almost makes it more exciting to come back down here.”

“We got a lot of big hockey games coming up and a lot of opportunity to grow as a goalie,” he said.

Levi should have plenty of opportunity to develop during the upcoming Calder Cup Playoffs. The Amerks, who have three games left in the regular season, clinched a berth last week.

The Amerks are expected to ride Levi throughout the postseason. Having started nearly every game for Northeastern for two seasons, he’s used to a heavy workload. Still, the long and often grueling pro schedule has forced him to change his preparation a bit and learn to manage his energy levels.

“Colleges with 30 games rather than how many I’m playing, you have an opportunity to prep there all week for those two weekend games,” Levi said. “So you could almost treat them like playoff games and really get dialed in and really excited for the game.

“But as we play and as we get more starts, it’s a little bit more taxing, so to be able to take a step back and kind of be able to play well and perform without that need to bring yourself to a really high level emotionally, that’s kind of what I learned this year, and I think it was a pretty valuable.”

Following Monday’s season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Sabres players are scheduled to talk to the media Wednesday and Thursday morning.

General manager Kevyn Adams and coach Don Granato are scheduled to hold their end-of-season media availability Friday morning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *