Best wishes to RJ

Chad Ruhwedel played college hockey in Pittsburgh earlier this month. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ruhwedel’s whirlwind NHL adventure brings Sabres rookie back to Pittsburgh

Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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PITTSBURGH – Buffalo Sabres rookie Chad Ruhwedel hasn’t truly left college yet. Six games into his new life, the 22-year-old defenseman is still enrolled at UMass Lowell, where he’s a senior pursuing degrees in business and marketing and management.

Even in the NHL, Ruhwedel, who had junior playing status, has some school work to do. When the season ends, he’ll go back and finish the semester.

“A little tough, but my teachers have been pretty understanding,” Ruhwedel said Tuesday prior to the Sabres’ 4-2 win over the Penguins. “I’ll be able to have plenty of time to go back and finish finals.”

On Tuesday, Ruhwedel was back where his NCAA career ended in the Frozen Four semifinal just 12 days earlier, the Consol Energy Center. Naturally, this city and the building hold special memories.

“Coming out of the tunnel (Monday) night and seeing Pittsburgh again was cool,” Ruhwedel said. “It’s a great city. They did a great job hosting the Frozen Four. It was incredible, a lot of fun.”

Ruhwedel’s life has been a blur since signing a two-year contract April 13.

“I’m just kind of still running on adrenaline,” said Ruhwedel, who’s living in a hotel temporarily before he rejoins his four college housemates.

Ruhwedel began Tuesday averaging 13:44 a game beside partner Mike Weber. He’s still pointless.

“I thought he started real well,” interim Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. “I thought (Monday he) struggled a bit, and that’s going to happen with young players in the league. They’re going to start off excited. …

“But I like a lot of things about him. He skates well. He’s got a lot of stick skills, battles, his competitive nature’s good. So there’s a lot of things to build off of.”

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Sabres defenseman Adam Pardy played only 36 games last season while clashing with his coach in Dallas. The 28-year-old then cleared waivers earlier this campaign before shuttling between Rochester and Buffalo.

Pardy, a veteran of 199 NHL games, hadn’t played regularly in the AHL since 2007-08.

Finally, though, Pardy can relax. Three trades prior to the deadline opened up a regular defense spot. Pardy has played the last 11 games.

“I can’t lie to you,” Pardy acknowledged Tuesday morning. “It’s always tough knowing if you’re going to make one mistake or bad pass or bad turnover then you’re probably going to get sent down or taken out of the lineup the next night. It plays in the back of your mind. But you got to find a way to be prepared enough not to let that affect your game too much.

“When a situation’s like this and you know you’re going to be in the lineup, it definitely makes things a little calmer and a little more comfortable out there knowing that you can just go out and play your game. When you do make a mistake, you just got to go out there and respond to it.”

Pardy has recently skated beside rookie Mark Pysyk.

“I think we’ve been pretty good here. We’ve done a lot of talking off the ice, especially before games, talking about the other teams’ players,” Pardy said.

Pardy will be an unrestricted free agent following the season.

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Sabres rookie Mikhail Grigorenko said Tuesday morning he doesn’t know if the Sabres will assign him to Rochester after the season ends Friday.

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The Sabres scratched wingers Patrick Kaleta (hand) and Ville Leino (upper body) and defenseman Tyler Myers (leg).

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