BUFFALO – Before Brian Gionta caught his afternoon flight to Germany to represent Team USA at the Deutschland Cup, the former Sabres captain wanted one last on-ice workout.
Since Gionta couldn’t make it to Rochester, where he has been practicing with the AHL Americans, he called Matt Ellis, his friend and former Sabres teammate.
So for an hour Monday inside HarborCenter, Ellis and Nick Tuzzolino, two coaches at the Academy of Hockey, put Gionta, ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – As last season unfolded, popular former Sabres forward Matt Ellis sensed the inevitable end to his long and unlikely career.
At times, Ellis, 35, said he felt like a spare part with the Rochester Americans, a victim of age and a changing game. AHL veteran rules often forced him to sit out as a healthy scratch. The adversity, he believes, tested his character and how badly he wanted to keep playing.
“There ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Sabres prospect Nick Baptiste understands coming off consecutive 40-goal junior seasons, his rookie campaign with the Rochester Americans looks a bit underwhelming.
“Whenever you go from 40 goals to 13, it’s obviously a pretty steep decline,” Baptiste said Friday after rookie camp opened inside HarborCenter. “But it’s a different league. It’s pro hockey. You’re playing against 30-year-old men versus 18-year-old boys. It’s a lot different.”
For two years, Baptiste, 21, was quietly one ... Read the full article
ROCHESTER – In the midst of a nine-game AHL winless stretch in which Buffalo Sabres prospect Linus Ullmark allowed 37 goals, the rookie goalie received a much-needed confidence boost.
When a bruised finger prevented goalie Chad Johnson from playing April 9, the Sabres recalled the struggling Swede from the Americans hours before their season finale against the New York Islanders.
In his first NHL start since Jan. 12, Ullmark helped the Sabres win 4-3 in ... Read the full article
ROCHESTER – Physically, Matt Ellis said, he hasn’t felt this good in four or five years. At 34 years old, having just finished his 14th pro season, the popular former Buffalo Sabres forward believes he could keep playing.
“I definitely feel like I got lots left in the tank,” Ellis said Thursday inside the Blue Cross War Memorial.
Still, Ellis understands he could be nearing retirement. This season, his first out of the NHL ... Read the full article
ROCHESTER – It rarely happens. In fact, it might have been a first. Five days after posting a 30-save shutout, the Americans scratched a healthy Andrey Makarov for their next game, Friday’s 5-0 loss to Albany.
Top Buffalo Sabres goalie prospect Linus Ullmark started the home finale. Nathan Lieuwen, just back from his three-week NHL stint, backed up the Swede.
The loquacious Makarov, 22, watched from the stands wearing a suit.
Two years ago, ... Read the full article
ROCHESTER – Before Americans winger Justin Bailey started his first pro season, he set a significant goal for himself. The Williamsville native wanted to score 20 times, a tough number for anyone, let alone a rookie, to reach in this low-scoring era.
“I think it’s something that in the beginning I strived to accomplish,” Bailey said Thursday inside the Blue Cross War Memorial after the AHL club prepared for tonight’s home finale against the Albany ... Read the full article
BUFFALO – Just 18 days ago, when the Rochester Americans made their yearly visit to the First Niagara Center, Phil Varone watched as a healthy scratch. At that point, almost halfway through his fifth professional season, the forward appeared to be on the outs with the Sabres organization.
Despite playing 28 NHL games last year and earning a contract worth $200,000 in the minors, Varone’s poor play and the Amerks’ glut of veterans helped him ... Read the full article
ROCHESTER – One of the oddest situations in the minors is unfolding with the AHL Americans, the Buffalo Sabres’ high-priced affiliate. The club has too many veterans, meaning some notable talent earning six figures has been forced to sit out to comply with league development rules.
The Amerks scratched Jerry D’Amigo and Patrick Kaleta, two forwards with 379 games of NHL experience, Friday. Forward Matt Ellis, an alternate captain less than a year removed ... Read the full article
ROCHESTER – The biggest early-season surprise on the farm hasn’t been Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste or Evan Rodrigues – three talented AHL rookie forwards many believe will play for the Buffalo Sabres someday.
While the prospects have contributed to the Americans at times, another first-year pro has outplayed them all. Remember this name: Jean Dupuy.
Who? Just 23 games into his career, Dupuy, an undrafted center from the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie ... Read the full article