PORTLAND – After finishing last season on a high note playing for his native Germany at the International Ice Hockey Federation world championship, Felix Schutz is ready for his third season with the Portland Pirates.

Schutz, one of 12 players assigned to Portland Wednesday by the Buffalo Sabres, will be on the ice today for the 10 a.m. skate at the Portland Ice Arena.

The Pirates will hold their first official on-ice training session at 6 p.m. Saturday at PIA.

On Tuesday night, the Pirates will play a preseason game against the Manchester Monarchs at Conway Arena in Nashua, N.H.

Portland will open the regular season Oct. 9 against the Monarchs at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Last May, Schutz scored two goals, including an overtime score in a 2-1 victory against Team USA before 56,000 fans in Cologne, Germany, to help his country to a fourth-place finish in the 16-team tournament.

“It was a good way to finish the season on a positive note,” he said. “I was happy with the results of the national team and it was good for our country, too.”

Schutz had 13 goals and 14 assists in 67 games with the Pirates last season. During the final third of the season, he was slowed by a right shoulder injury and a concussion.

Last month, the 22-year-old Schutz checked into the Sabres’ training camp in Buffalo in top shape. Schutz, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound center, tested out with 5.5 percent body fat.

“That’s the lowest it’s ever been,” he said. “I actually lost a little weight and I gained some muscle, I guess.”

While in Germany for the summer, Schutz, who returned to the U.S. for the Sabres’ prospect camp in July, stayed active.

“I’ve been doing the same thing for the last four years now,” he said. “Just lifting, doing the conditioning part every day, a lot of running, a lot of biking, playing soccer and tennis.”

Schutz, who spent four seasons playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before turning pro, is entering the final season of his three-year deal with Buffalo, which selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 entry draft.

“I want to have a good start to the season,” he said. “You can’t really say anything right now (about the contract).

“Once the season starts, after the first couple of games, you know your role and you know where the other guys are. In the end, you want to play as hard as you can to help your team.”

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]