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Tyler Ennis Believes Future is Bright for Himself, Fellow Buffalo Sabres Teammates

April 23rd, 2014 at 8:13 PM
By Richard N. Wade II

Tyler Ennis scored a career high 21 goals last season, but he isn't allowing himself to become complacent.

'Tyler Ennis' photo (c) 2010, Keith & Alyssa - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"My play got better as the season went on. I have to play the whole season like that though," said Ennis.

After starting the year on the wing, Ennis eventually became comfortable as the top-line center, reigniting previous chemistry with Drew Stafford.

"I need to be more consistent. I'm happy that I beat my prior career high of 20 goals," Ennis said. 'But I want to get 30. I want to get 40. You want to set high goals, so I'm going to set high goals for myself."

The Sabres suffered a variety of ailments throughout this difficult season. When you factor in injuries, trades, and other roster moves, the Sabres lost a total of 305 man-games due to injury. 

When the injuries became so bad that assistant captains Stafford and Henrik Tallinder were absent, Ennis was asked to wear a letter.

"It was very special. To be the assistant captain of any team is cool," said Ennis. "To grow up and make the National Hockey League is a dream come true and then to be an assistant captain and a leader is awesome."

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Rochester Americans Set to Face Chicago Wolves in AHL Playoffs

April 22nd, 2014 at 11:30 AM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101

The Rochester Americans will begin their first-round AHL playoff series Friday against the Chicago Wolves.

The Buffalo Sabres' American Hockey league affiliate clinched its third playoff spot last week. The Amerks won seven of their last nine games to surge back into playoff position after a nine-game winless skid temporarily dropped them out of contention. Rochester finished the year 37-28-6-5, good for 85 points.

'080809_Blue_Cross_Arena_!' photo (c) 2008, Thomas Belknap - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

They'll play the Midwest Division champion Wolves (45-21-5-5), who clinched the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference on the season's final day. The Amerks lost to the Toronto Marlies in the opening round of the playoffs the last two seasons.

Rochester and Chicago split their season series. On Jan. 29, the Amerks beat Chicago 4-1. The Wolves won the Feb. 28 rematch, 6-2.

The Amerks will host the first two games of the best-of-five series. The series opens at 7:05 p.m. Friday at the Blue Cross Arena. Game two is Saturday, followed by games three through five (if necessary) May 1, 2 and 4 in Chicago. Tickets are now on sale.

The other Western Conference matchups have Texas playing Oklahoma City, Toronto playing Milwaukee and Grand Rapids facing off against Abbotsford.

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Top-5 Moments in Atrocious Buffalo Sabres’ Season

April 21st, 2014 at 9:25 PM
By Anthony Custode Jr

This season was extremely painful for the Buffalo Sabres, but even in such a terrible season, there were some bright spots for the lowly organization. Below is a list of the top-5 moments for the Sabres this season.

'Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff' photo (c) 2009, Roswell Park - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

5. Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston Fired: Everyone in the Western New York area knew that Darcy Regier's time in Buffalo was limited. When the news finally broke that he had been fired, a breath of fresh air swooped through every Sabres fan. And to make the news even better, the joke that was the head coach of Ron Rolston was also put to an end. Rolston had no business being behind an NHL bench, and Regier had over-stayed his welcome. 

4. The Return of Lindy Ruff: Long-time Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff returned to Buffalo on Oct. 28 when his Dallas Stars were in town to play the Sabres. Though Buffalo had only won once leading up to that game, Sabres fans made it a point to show up and pay tribute to Ruff. The Sabres organized a tribute video on the jumbotron, and the game was competitive, even after the Stars jumped out to a commanding early lead. Ruff later addressed the media, attracting a huge crowd of media. He expressed his gratitude for Sabres fans and the organization.

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Buffalo Sabres Bring on Elmira Jackals as New Minor League Affiliate

April 20th, 2014 at 12:00 PM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101

The top three tiers of the Buffalo Sabres' organization are now all in New York state after the club agreed to make the Elmira Jackals their newest affiliate.

The Jackals play in the ECHL, North America's top AA-level hockey league. That's also the league of Buffalo's previous AA-level affiliate, the Gwinnett Gladiators.

'Elmira, New York' photo (c) 2009, Doug Kerr - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The move further localizes the Sabres' ranks. Buffalo realigned with the Rochester Americans in the AHL after Terry Pegula bought the Sabres in 2011. He bought the Amerks soon after that.

So, instead of summoning for a call-up from Georgia, the Amerks need only to call down to Elmira, which is about two hours southeast of Rochester near the Pennsylvania border. And, like the Buffalo Bills' NFL efforts to regionalize, the move gives the Sabres an additional presence in the eastern part of New York.

"Proper development is essential in maintaining a competitive roster at the NHL level," Sabres general manager Tim Murray said. "We're proud to have the Jackals as part of our organization and, with the Amerks in Rochester, we now have the added bonus of working with minor-league affiliates that are no (farther) than 150 miles from Buffalo."

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Rochester Americans Clinch AHL Playoff Spot with Win Over Syracuse Crunch

April 19th, 2014 at 1:16 PM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101
The Rochester Americans clinched their third straight AHL playoff berth Friday night with a 5-1 win in their home finale over the Syracuse Crunch.
 
The Buffalo Sabres' top farm team scored three first-period goals to cruise to its seventh win in the last eight games. A season-high crowd of 9,518 also helped the Amerks secure a 22-10-3-3 home record.
 
'Luke Adam' photo (c) 2012, grilled cheese - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
 
Tim Schaller, Luke Adam and Brayden Irwin scored the only goals Rochester would need to give the home team a 3-0 lead after one period. Adam's was his team-leading 29th goal, also a personal high. Nick Deslauriers added one goal in the second period, while Phil Varone scored the game's final tally after Syracuse broke the shutout in the third period.
 
Andrey Makarov made 22 saves to record the win in his 10th straight start. He's been buoyed by a lineup that's finally complete after the Sabres' injury woes forced constant call-ups much of the season.
"If we keep playing like we are, we should do a lot of good things for the team," Schaller said.
Rochester (37-27-6-5) is locked into seventh place in the Western Conference. They'll play the winner of the Midwest Division in the first round. Grand Rapids and Chicago are tied for the division lead at 98 points entering their respective season finales Saturday.
 
The Amerks end the regular season at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Toronto Marlies. They're expected to rest many regulars, including Makarov. The AHL playoffs will begin next weekend.
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