Among the standouts on the ice this past weekend at the Buffalo Sabres’ Prospects Challenge was defenseman Peter Tischke. After being signed by the Rochester Americans earlier this summer, this past weekend afforded Tischke a first chance to work with head coach Seth Appert and a handful of his future teammates.
He wasn’t the most familiar name for Sabres fans watching. He wasn’t the flashiest player on the ice - nor is that expected, especially from a defenseman coming to camp on an AHL contract. But to a watchful eye, he left an impression.
“I think Peter, all week, has been a real leader,” Appert said. “You can feel his four years at Wisconsin, and the leadership that he has. You can feel that he’s had a year in the American Hockey League.”
The 25-year-old spent four years at the University of Wisconsin between 2015 and 2019, but his time as a Badger could have been cut short on multiple occasions.
First, after an underwhelming freshman year, the Badgers faced a new coaching staff in Tony Granato & co. He could have been let go at that point - he was reportedly “on the bubble,” but Granato kept him - and would later refer to him as a “hidden gem.”
Tischke found his game and settled into college hockey nicely. After his junior season, he reportedly had multiple offers to sign professional contracts, but elected to return to school. He also attended Pittsburgh Penguins development camp prior to his senior season.
As a senior, he was named captain of the Badgers and appeared in 36 games, winning the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award and being named a Hobey Baker nominee. He also played alongside fellow Sabres prospect Linus Weissbach at Wisconsin.
Just 10 days after the Badgers were eliminated from the playoffs, Tischke signed an amateur tryout with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. He spent most of the 2019-20 season in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzles, where the left-handed blueliner accrued 64 penalty minutes and 15 points in 51 games.
He also played in five games with the Eagles that season, and Colorado re-signed him in August of last year. He went on to appear in 16 games, recording two points and six penalty minutes.
The Amerks signed him on August 12 to a one-year, two-way AHL/ECHL deal.
He made quite the impression at the Sabres Prospects Challenge, scoring a goal on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils, then blocking multiple shots and dropping the gloves against Alex-Olivier Voyer (Boston Bruins) on Saturday afternoon.
Peter Tischke gets in a tussle and the crowd goes WILD.— Rochester Americans (@AmerksHockey) September 18, 2021
We love to see it. pic.twitter.com/mRVy0zpOjr
He played a solid defensive game and saw some time on the penalty kill, too. Overall, he showed the Sabres & Amerks brass why he deserved to be there, and how he’s going to earn his spot in the AHL this season.
“I thought he was a calming presence,” Appert said. “I thought he was physical, hard to play against, and he showed why he’s fighting to climb the ladder in pro hockey.”
Next up on that climb, it appears, will be a season in the AHL with Rochester for Tischke. The Amerks are slated to open the regular season on Friday, October 8 against the Utica Comets.