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Leino's shootout moment was a reminder of the good times that can be had

By John Vogl

Anyone who says it’s been fun heading to the Sabres’ arena day in, day out since September is either lying or unaware of what fun really is. Players, team employees and season-ticket holders have all bemoaned the drudgery.

It’s why Tuesday night was so ridiculously awesome.

For the first time all season, I drove away from First Niagara Center fully believing I saw the coolest thing in Buffalo that night. There is no place I’d rather have been around 10 p.m. when Ville Leino hopped over the boards for a shootout.

The crowd’s reaction to the most-maligned player on the last-place team was simply amazing. The fans already on their feet cheered louder than they had during the first eight rounds. The rest of the crowd stood to join them, with folks lifting their arms and exhorting their neighbors to get crazy.

When Leino scored – the first time any of his shots had hit the back of the net all season – it was bedlam. Players and coaches laughed, fans exchanged high-fives and memories were made.

It’s what sports is supposed to be about.

“That,” Drew Stafford said in the dressing room, “was the highlight of the season.”


Ville Leino
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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |