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Mair

Thomas Vanek compiled five goals and 15 points in 11 Austrian appearances. ©2012, Christian Bruna, www.christianbruna.at
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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AMHERST – Having grown up in Austria, Thomas Vanek knew a lot about European hockey. Then the locked-out Buffalo Sabres winger, who left for the United States 14 years ago, signed a short contract with his hometown Graz 99ers, a team in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga.

“Playing it and seeing it is definitely an experience,” Vanek said Wednesday after skating inside the Northtown Center.

Fans in the antiquated and small buildings throughout the EBEL sing, scream and even bang on drums …

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