Eau Claire native Jake McCabe makes NHL debut - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire native Jake McCabe makes NHL debut

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Just a day after signing a three year deal with the Buffalo Sabres, more than 40 people gathered at a local pub to watch his debut.

"His mom texted me that he had finally signed and I got Goosebumps when I got the text," said family friend Brian Knapp.

Eyes were fixed on the TV's at Dooleys pub in Eau Claire waiting to see McCabe take the NHL ice for the first time

"Last year was cool for him to win the gold medal for the world juniors," said Steve Kapla a friend of the McCabes. "Now to get on this stage it's where ever kid grows up and wants to be."

And it didn't take long for McCabe to get involved

"I was glued to the set every time Jake is on the ice," said Knapp. "He had a good opportunity in front of the net where he went on a rush with a couple offensive players and had a good swing at it but it just didn't happen."

If you wanted to take in the Gophers NIT win forget about it. On the same night McCabe starts his NHL career another Eau Claire native was back on the ice.

"Jake Dowell has been up and down all year and to have him back up when Jake makes his debut is really cool," said Kapla.

"It doesn't get any better than that," Knapp said. "I was in this same building when Jake (Dowell) scored his first goal and I'm looking forward to Jake McCabe doing the same thing tonight"

And who knows?  This may not be the end of the line for Eau Claire hockey professionals.

"There's some kids in the pipe line so hopefully there's some NHLers," said Kapla who's son plays at UMass Lowell.

"Kids look up to these players that have been before them now and I think things will only get better in this area," said Knapp. "It's nice to see another kid and there's probably a few more on their way."

McCabe played about 16 minutes in his debut.

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