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World championships under way

The world championships started Friday, and members of the Sabres play a prominent role on several teams.

USA: Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford (plus local products Patrick Kane and Lee Stempniak)

Canada: Derek Roy

Czech Republic: Ales Kotalik

Germany: Philip Gogulla

Russia: Maxim Afinogenov, Dmitri Kalinin

Slovakia: Andrej Sekera

You can follow the tournament, which is being played in Canada for the first time, at this link. The tournament runs through May 18.

---John Vogl

"Party" in the plaza

FALMOUTH, Maine -- Shared a good laugh today with Jason Pominville when we were discussing Friday night's game between Pittsburgh and the Rangers. Versus kept going to its outdoor camera to show people watching the game on big screens outside Mellon Arena. Judging from the television, the Penguins packed their plaza with, oh, 50 people, maybe 100. It was a long way from the thousands upon thousands outside HSBC Arena last year.

"I did see that, and the first thing I thought of was that," Pominville said of the disparity. "When we were in the playoffs last year, they would show it on the Jumbotron and you couldn't see the end. There weren't that many people in Pittsburgh."

Penguins fans can still laugh, however, as they at least have playoffs to participate in.

As for Pominville, read Sunday's News to see his thoughts on joining Team USA despite being born in Canada. It was a good decision for him with an eye on the 2010 Olympics, and it was a great decision for the Americans to get someone who is becoming a top-notch player.

---John Vogl

Gerbe getting up to speed

FALMOUTH, Maine -- I got my first look at Sabres prospect Nathan Gerbe today at Team USA training camp (the Boston College junior recently was added to the world championship team). My first impression was the same one everyone gets when they see him on the ice: Man, that guy is small. The 5-foot-5 forward was standing next to 6-3 teammate David Backes, and the top of Gerbe's helmet was even with Backes' shoulder pads.

But, as we all know, first impressions can soon get overshadowed. The height disparity isn't what I'll remember about today's practice. What I'll recall is how long Gerbe stayed on the ice. Most of the team was in the dressing room and out of uniform, yet there was Gerbe, standing in front of the net with a crate full of pucks, firing them over and over. He ended up being the third-last player to call it a day. (For the record, the final player off the ice was West Seneca's Lee Stempniak, whom I'll be writing about in Saturday's paper.)

Gerbe has had a whirlwind month -- Hobey Baker runner-up, national champion, Frozen Four MVP -- and now he's playing with some of the country's best professionals. He's eager to see how he stacks up.

"It's been a special year, so I'm really thankful to be part of this team here," Gerbe said. "It's a good group of guys to be skating with to kind of get to compare yourself with. It's like a measuring stick to see where you stand at the pro level. It's definitely an honor, especially to represent your country. I can't complain about the year so far.

"It's quick. The guys move the puck fast. It's a lot different than college, so definitely a little getting used to. But it's been a good transition so far. The guys obviously help me out, giving me pointers here and there, things I can do better."

As he's already shown, he's willing to work to get better.

---John Vogl

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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 | jvogl@buffnews.com

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 | mharrington@buffnews.com


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 | amoritz@buffnews.com

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