December 28, 2008 - 11:00 AM
Tyler Myers, the Sabres' 6-foot-7 first-round draft pick, usually gets noticed. In a plus for him and Buffalo, he's garnering attention at the juniors' highest stage.
Myers has helped form Team Canada's "Twin Towers" at the world junior championships, according to TSN.
Here's a link to a video of Myers and 6-6 blue-liner Keith Aulie.
November 21, 2008 - 10:08 AM
The fans' clamor has apparently been heard: The Sabres have just taken the ice for the morning skate and right winger Mark Mancari is here from Portland, where was second in the AHL in scoring with 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 14 games.
Mancari is skating with Paul Gaustad and Daniel Paille and Lindy Ruff (finally) will make Maxim Afinogenov a healthy scratch. One-goal Max is on the ice but not skating on the lines, which look like this:
Vanek-Hecht-Pominville; Paille-Gaustad-Mancari; MacArthur-Roy-Stafford; Kaleta-Mair-Peters
And now more news: Henrik Tallinder is a healthy scratch for tonight in the wake of Wednesday's disaster in Boston that was a key topic in the locker room yesterday. Nathan Paetsch will be in.
September 15, 2008 - 6:14 PM
Sanborn native Tom McCollum was the second goalie taken in the June NHL draft, going 30th to the Red Wings (with Jhonas Enroth in the fold, the Sabres passed on McCollum).
McCollum is spending this week in Traverse City, Mich., at the league's prospect camp, a multi-team affair with game play run sort of like the NBA's summer camp in Las Vegas.
You can hear from him directly as he's blogging about his experiences for NHL.com.
August 8, 2008 - 10:10 AM
John Paddock didn't last the season in Ottawa so he's going back to his roots as a player by rejoining the Flyers organization to become head coach of the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms. Former Flyers tough guy Craig Berube, who had been leading the Phantoms, has rejoined the big club as an assistant coach.
While Paddock failed in Ottawa largely because Ray Emery was brutal in net and Bryan Murray loomed too large over his shoulder, he's been a terrific minor-league coach. Paddock, in fact, is the only coach in AHL history to lead three different franchises to Calder Cup championships (Maine in 1984, Hershey in 1988, and Hartford in 2000).
I stumbled upon this recent news release from the Portland Pirates (don't hold it against me for being a little behind) and was bummed to see that the Sabres' new farm team won't get all that close to Buffalo this season.
The Pirates are in the AHL's Eastern Conference and will play no Western teams. That means no trips to Rochester, Syracuse, Toronto, Hamilton or Cleveland -- all within easy driving range of Buffalo. (Yes, those five teams I listed are in the AHL West and regularly go to places like Manitoba, San Antonio and Houston. Weird.)
Where can you go to see the Pirates? You'll have to shell out more gas money and go to Binghamton, Wilkes-Barre or Albany. I'm thinking at least once or twice during the season that would be a roadie worth a Sabres fan's time. Maybe the more daring one would be to pick up a Sabres game in Boston, followed by Pirates games in either Providence or Portland itself.
Forward Matt Syroczynski, a Hamburg native who played at Nichols, scored what proved to be the winning goal in the first minute of the third period Thursday night (right) as the Cincinnati Cyclones wrapped up the East Coast Hockey League championship with a 3-1 win over Las Vegas in Game Six of the ECHL's Kelly Cup finals.
A crowd of 12,722 -- the largest in ECHL playoff history -- was on hand for Cincy's first pro sports championship since the 1990 Reds. It was the city's first hockey title since the 1973 Cincinnati Swords, then the Sabres' top farm team, won the AHL's Calder Cup.
Also on the Cincinnati roster was Barret Ehgoetz, who graduated as Niagara University's all-time scoring leader. The ECHL is one level down from the AHL on the food chain of minor-league hockey.
(Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer)
The worst-kept secret in Sabreland these days is the fact that the team's AHL affiliate next season will be in Portland, Maine. You won't get anybody in the organization to talk about it much or even say the name of that city. It's been a we're-studying-our-options (wink-wink) topic for weeks about the messy depature from Rochester and the move to Lobsterland.
But Tuesday's Tim Kennedy press conference marked the first time the team admitted the move is imminent. Darcy Regier said an announcement on a new farm team is coming in "days" even though he never said the P-word either. Portland officially became open Tuesday afternoon when the Anaheim Ducks moved their minor-league operations from Maine to Des Moines, Iowa (here's the Des Moines Register report).
Meanwhile, the Portland Pirates issued a statement thanking the Ducks for their affiliation and promising bigger and better things with their new parent (wink-wink II). The statement also tweaked a bizarre headline in Tuesday's Portland Press Herald that called the Pirates' future "unsettled." Excuse me? The story even says the Pirates are joining with the Sabres. Silly.
Anyway, here's a key part of the statement from Portland Managing Owner/CEO Brian Petrovek: "We will be introducing our new NHL affiliate to our fans in the near future. ... our future has never been brighter, our expectations never higher. We’re looking forward to the next chapter of Portland Pirates Hockey with a great deal of excitement and optimism."
My stomach envies all the Buffalo Sabres prospects if the team puts its AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine, which it appears it will. Having spent four days there late last month researching several stories, I can tell you the food is amazing. Lobster, lobster cocktail, lobster rolls, clams and even the nonseafood was great, as great chefs pile into the town.
And, more importantly from a Sabres aspect, the people (and the team) know their hockey. The AHL has been there for more than 30 years, and people care about it. The Sabres are leaving a perfect situation with Rochester, but Portland should be nearly as good.
No way Michael Ratchuk thought his pro career would be this wild this soon. Just over a month ago, the defenseman from Buffalo was finishing his sophomore season at Michigan State. But he left school when the Spartans were eliminated a win shy of the Frozen Four and opted to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, who drafted him in the second round in 2006. They sent him to the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL and Ratchuk was in the middle of history Thursday night/Friday morning
Ratchuk, whose first professional goal on April 14 against Albany was a classic (check out the video below), will never forget his first playoff point either. He got the key assist on the winning goal early Friday morning as Philadelphia outlasted Albany, 3-2, in a five-overtime classic that was the longest playoff game in AHL history. The Phantoms lead the series, three games to two.
Click here to get the radio call of Ratchuk's feed to Ryan Potulny for the game-winning goal at 2:58 of the fifth OT.
Check out the stat sheet: Philadelphia finished with 101 shots on goal, including 63 in the five overtimes. Albany goalie Michael Leighton made 98 saves and lost! The game took 5 hours, 38 minutes and ended at 12:39 this morning before just a few hundred folks in Albany's Times Union Center. Only three NHL playoff games have gone longer.
Here's Ratchuk's first goal I promised above. Lousy camera work. And how about the call: "a little shake and bake ... and the piece of chicken was in the back of the net?" Yikes.
April 15, 2008 - 10:35 AM
How bad did things get in Rochester? Players who came up to Buffalo toed the company line during the season about how they kept their focus on the ice -- even though none of us believed them. When the Amerks cleaned out their lockers Monday, a lot of the real feelings came out.
Check out Kevin Oklobzija's story in today's Rochester D&C. The truth finally came out about what a fiasco the Rochester franchise has become. The Sabres certainly created some of the mess with the decision to split the farm with Florida but plenty of these wounds were self-inflicted by Rochester owner Steve Donner.
This is no way for an NHL team to be developing players. Whether they go to Portland next season or anywhere else, the Sabres better make sure this kind of situation never happens again. It reflects horribly on the entire organization.
April 13, 2008 - 12:00 AM
I didn't spend much time watching any playoff games Saturday night. That's because I was captivated by the Frozen Four championship game featuring Boston College mighty mite Nathan Gerbe (left). He had two more goals in the final to spark a 4-1 win over Notre Dame in what has to be his final college game. (By the way, one of BC's assistant coaches is Greg Brown, who played 49 games on defense for the Sabres in the early '90s after being their second-round pick in 1986.)
Gerbe is only 5-foot-5 but he plays much bigger. He's feisty, shifty, puts the puck in the net and is a winner -- in other words, just about everything Maxim Afinogenov isn't!
Now that he finished second for the Hobey Baker Award and won a championship, you would think the Sabres are going to have to come up with the rookie maximum of 875K or very close to it to sign Gerbe. Ditto for Michigan State's Tim Kennedy, the South Buffalo native who led the Spartans to last year's title, and Denver defenseman Chris Butler.
UPDATE: The Denver Post is reporting Butler has agreed to terms with the Sabres.
Darcy Regier said at the wrapup press conference that talks had not begun with Gerbe because the Eagles were still playing. BC is done now and it's time for the Sabres to get moving and get Gerbe signed. Didn't Larry Quinn say they're trying to win the Stanley Cup? Then make the statement. I think the Sabres realize Gerbe is a must-get and it will happen quickly.
Who watched Gerbe in the Frozen Four and what did you think?
(Photo: Gerbe in BC's celebration/Associated Press)
Sabres prospect Nathan Gerbe has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, college hockey's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. For more on the Boston College star, click here.
In today's sports section, I provided an update of three top Sabres prospects in the college ranks: South Buffalo native Tim Kennedy (Michigan State), Boston College center Nathan Gerbe and Denver defenseman Chris Butler.
Gerbe is second in the nation in scoring and is one of those mighty mites who can electrify a game with his slick skating and moves. Check out this penalty shot goal Gerbe scored Saturday in the Hockey East playoffs against Providence. Pretty close to being an illegal move (you're not supposed to be able to stop dead on a penalty shot), but pretty spectacular nonetheless. Love the Joe Cool reaction too.
February 10, 2008 - 11:21 AM
Buffalo native Kevin Quick has the in-the-clubhouse lead for local collegiate dope of the year after getting booted off the University of Michigan hockey team, as Bucky Gleason's Inside the NHL documents Sunday morning. But Quick, a Tampa Bay draftee, is getting a second chance as the Lightning have signed him to play for Norfolk in the AHL.
Here's a story out of Norfolk on Quick's first talks with his new coach and teammates.
Here's some comment from the Lightning perspective via the St. Petersburg Times.
January 13, 2008 - 4:35 PM
The Sabres took today off, getting a chance to either forget about hockey or reflect on their nine-game winless streak.
It gives us the chance to reflect on Swedish goaltender Jhonas Enroth, the only Sabres prospect who participated in this month's world junior championship. He earned a silver medal.
It's merely a coincidence the story in Monday's paper comes while Sabres starter Ryan Miller is struggling. But it is an intriguing coincidence. Enroth thinks he's ready for the NHL. Miller thought so, too, while he was setting records at Michigan State. It took a few years in the minors to become an NHL starter. The guy who sits next to Miller, Jocelyn Thibault, is one of the few who did make it at a young age.
December 26, 2007 - 7:08 PM
The world junior championships -- part of Patrick Kane's springboard to stardom last year -- have begun. You can follow the games at www.iihf.com or www.worldjuniors2008.com.
One of the top Sabres prospects, Jhonas Enroth, is the goaltender for Sweden. He made 30 saves today as the Swedes opened with a 4-3 victory over Slovakia. Enroth was the Sabres' second-round pick in 2006. Most of the team's other top prospects, including Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy, are too old for the under-20 event.
December 16, 2007 - 2:10 PM
Everyone knows Sabres prospect Patrick Kaleta can hit. But it appears he took more than he gave Friday night.
As the final horn sounded in the Rochester American's loss to the Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs on Friday, Kaleta checked an opposing player, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Rockford went Hog wild, with at least two players jumping on Kaleta, the Angola native. He suffered a beating, and his status for the next night's game was in doubt. He ended up playing.
A blog by Rochester beat writer Kevin Oklobzija said it's really no surprise a team ganged up Kaleta. He writes that Kaleta delivers hard hits, but then avoids fights when an opposing player tries to avenge them.
It's definitely something the Sabres should keep an eye on if they want Kaleta to become an Adam Mair-type energy player someday.