Photo: Aaron Doster - USA TODAY Sports

Wilson and Rodrigues have been friends for years

The playing chemistry between the two has came right back

Paul Hamilton
December 07, 2017 - 6:16 pm
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Chicago, Ill (WGR 550) - Scott Wilson and Evan Rodrigues didn’t grow up together. They met when they were 16 and wound up playing on the same line together. Wilson said, “That was the OJHL for the Georgetown Raiders. We were both 16-year-olds playing with overage 21-year-olds, so we were definitely the odd ones out.

“We’ve kept in touch, I also played against him at school.” Wilson played as UMass-Lowell and Rodrigues was with Jack Eichel at BU.

Rodrigues said the two had a friendly competition in college, “Oh yes, definitely, he used to torch us in college. It seemed like every time we’d play him he was putting up at least a goal if not two, so we had a pretty good competition going in college.”

Wilson grew up playing for the Oakville Rangers and played against him as kids when Rodrigues was with the Etobicoke Marlies.

There was no draft in the OJHL, so Wilson said you just find a team to play for. Both went to the Raiders and became best friends. Just because you’re on the same team doesn’t mean you're friends with everybody. Wilson said, “I think it was the age difference, most of the team was 21-year-olds, so we kind of stuck together and the wound up playing in the World Junior Challenge together so we always played together on a line.

“It was a lot of fun to play together back then. Looking back on it we probably made some bad turnovers because we liked to try to make plays, so it’s been fun trying to get back a little bit of that juice in the last few days.”

Rodrigues felt the chemistry was instant, “We seemed to click right from the beginning and we had fun playing hockey together. He’s really good at finishing and I tried to just look for him, so it just worked out for us.”

Rodrigues was playing his first game with Buffalo this season on Tuesday and he found himself centering a line with Wilson. Rodrigues felt like no time had passed, “Definitely, it was nice to have a friendly face back in the room and I feel like it’s made it easier for him transitioning having me here and being able to go to someone with questions.

Wilson likes playing with Rodrigues because of the way he plays, “He plays the exact same way, skilled game, thinks the game really well and he’s kept his hands with him, that’s for sure.”

As far as Wilson knew, Rodrigues was still playing in Rochester at the time he was traded from Detroit to Buffalo. The winger was pleasantly surprised when he found out different, “When Botsy called me as soon as it happened and I didn’t know that Rodder had been called up, so he said we might be reunited, so that made me pretty excited to get it going here.”

Rodrigues was never drafted and was signed as a free agent with the Sabres. It seems like many underestimate him, but he’s never lost faith in himself, “My whole life I’ve looked at it as whatever happens, happens, but I know if I put the work in and I trust myself, trust my ability, that good things will happen and you just have to enjoy the ride and I firmly believe that if you put the work in, good things will happen.”

Rodrigues got some power play time on Thursday at the point in place of Marco Scandella.

Phil Housley said Nate Beaulieu is still not with the club, but didn’t rule him out for Sunday in St. Louis.

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