Jason Payne played 14 pro seasons before becoming a coach. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Cincinnati’s Jason Payne becomes pro hockey’s only Black head coach

The Cincinnati Cyclones on Tuesday became North America’s only pro hockey team with a Black head coach after promoting Jason Payne to the position.

Payne, 45, has spent two seasons as an assistant with the Cyclones, the Buffalo Sabres’ ECHL affiliate. He replaces Matt Thomas, who recently left to become an assistant with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL affiliate. Payne will also be the Cyclones’ director of hockey operations.

The Sabres started sending prospects to ... Read the full article

Michael Houser played his first four NHL games last season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Goalie Michael Houser returns to Sabres organization on AHL contract

Goalie Michael Houser, who made his NHL debut late last season and started the Buffalo Sabres’ final four games, will be back in the organization next year.

The Rochester Americans on Thursday announced they’ve agreed to terms with Houser, 28, on a one-year AHL contract.

Houser, who has spent most of his career in the ECHL, became one of the hockey’s feel-good stories last spring, cracking the NHL for the first time in his ... Read the full article

Michael Houser played four games with Rochester. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

After wild run, Michael Houser’s time in Sabres organization could be over

ROCHESTER – Coach Seth Appert felt his goalie, Michael Houser, deserved to take over the Americans’ net in the final days of the season.

For years, Houser, who played four late-season games for the Buffalo Sabres, toiled in the ECHL. While he just completed his third season in the organization, he hadn’t played a game for the Amerks until a week ago.

Before earning his first NHL action earlier this month, Houser, 28, spent ... Read the full article

Michael Houser has spent nine seasons in the minors. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres goalie Michael Houser to realize dream with first NHL start

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Michael Houser toiled nine years in the minors, playing 283 games, most of them in the ECHL, for seven teams before an opportunity to start an NHL game materialized.

Tonight against the New York Islanders at KeyBank Center, Houser, 28, will make his NHL debut, interim coach Don Granato said. Houser will be the sixth Sabres goalie to start a game this season.

Houser has spent most of the past seven ... Read the full article

Michael Houser is receiving his first taste of the NHL with Buffalo. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres goalie Michael Houser enjoying first taste of NHL: ‘Cool experiences’

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Michael Houser arrived at the visiting dressing room that night six weeks ago in Madison Square Garden sweating.

Minutes earlier, Houser, 28, had been watching the action against the New York Rangers from a suite with other members of the team’s taxi squad.

Then Carter Hutton suffered a lower-body injury less than three minutes into the game, meaning Houser, the emergency backup, had to rush downstairs and get ready.

“I had ... Read the full article

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has played eight games with Rochester this season. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen excited for first taste of NHL

If injured Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark keeps progressing, he could play this week, perhaps as soon as tonight. So Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s first taste of the NHL might be brief.

Still, spending just a day or two with the Sabres, even on the taxi squad as their third goalie, should be a significant step for Luukkonen’s development.

“The more time a prospect can get around (the NHL), the easier it becomes for them to associate, ... Read the full article

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen spent part of last season in Rochester. ©2021, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to join Amerks

Top Buffalo Sabres goalie prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will be joining the Rochester Americans, his Finnish team announced today.

The Sabres loaned Luukkonen, 21, to HC TPS, a Liiga team, in August and had extended the loan agreement throughout the season.

The Amerks, the Sabres’ AHL affiliate, opened training camp Friday. The AHL season is scheduled to start Feb. 5.

In 13 games with HC TPS, Luukkonen compiled a 6-3-4 record with a 2.52 ... Read the full article

The Sabres began sending prospects to Cincinnati in 2017-18.

Reports: Cincinnati Cyclones, Sabres’ ECHL affiliate, to sit out season

The Cincinnati Cyclones, the Buffalo Sabres’ ECHL affiliate, will not play in the 2020-21 season, according to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski.

The Kalamazoo Wings and Idaho Steelheads will also sit out the season, according to Marek.

The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated minor league teams, which rely on gate revenue to operate.

On Nov. 18, the ECHL’s six-team North Division – the Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers and ... Read the full article

Dustin Tokarski has played for nine AHL teams, including the Hamilton Bulldogs. ©2020, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Sabres add goalie depth, sign Dustin Tokarski to two-year contract

The Buffalo Sabres added goaltending depth to the organization today, signing Dustin Tokarski to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $725,000.

The veteran, one of the AHL’s most experienced goalies, is likely ticketed for the Rochester Americans, where he can help mentor goalie prospects Jonas Johansson and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Tokarski’s arrival means Luukkonen, Buffalo’s top goalie prospect, could spend part of the upcoming season, assuming it can be played, with the ... Read the full article

Tobias Rieder scored three-short handed goals in the playoffs. ©2020, Dan Hickling, Hickling Images

Joining Sabres, Ralph Krueger ‘no-brainer’ for Tobias Rieder

Two years ago, new Buffalo Sabres winger Tobias Rieder pulled a Ville Leino, scoring zero goals in 67 games over a full season with the Edmonton Oilers.

Not surprisingly, teams showed little interest in Rieder following his miserable season. The German ended up settling for a tryout with the Calgary Flames, and he impressed them enough during training camp he earned a one-year contract.

So Rieder, 27, felt a sense of satisfaction when he ... Read the full article