Colton Gillies couldn’t find work during the summer. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Amerks’ Colton Gillies hoping impressive AHL season leads to another NHL gig

ROCHESTER – The summer dragged on and on, and Colton Gillies, a former first-round pick with 154 games of big league experience, couldn’t find any work.

Gillies was still months away from turning 25. He had just spent two straight seasons in the NHL. At 6-foot-4, he possessed size, a precious commodity, yet skating was his biggest asset.

Still, no one wanted him.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Gillies said Saturday after a gritty ... Read the full article

Colton Gillies had a goal and two points Saturday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Amerks hold late lead, tie series against Wolves

ROCHESTER – A night after blowing a late 3-1 lead and losing the playoff opener in overtime, the Americans experienced deja vu.

“It was ‘Groundhog Day,’” coach Chadd Cassidy joked Saturday after the Amerks grinded out a 3-2 win against the Chicago Wolves, tying the best-of-five Calder Cup playoff series. “We go up 3-1. Rasmus (Ristolainen), just a complete bomb off the crossbar.

“Same thing happened (Friday). We had a chance to go up 4-1 ... Read the full article

Drew Staffords tries a wraparound Friday in Toronto. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Drew Stafford could be sidelined ‘little while;’ Sabres have limited options to fill forward void

Winger Drew Stafford suffered an upper body injury early in Thursday’s wretched 4-1 loss to the Wild could be sidelined “a little while,” interim Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

“I’m not 100 percent sure,” Nolan told reporters in Minnesota. “But it’s not a day-to-day thing.”

That means the Sabres, who only had 12 healthy forwards, have to find add another one.

But where do they get one? They already recalled three recently.

Veterans Jamie ... Read the full article

Matt Ellis played his first NHL game since Feb. 2 on Saturday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Matt Ellis on special recall to Sabres: ‘It couldn’t have happened any better’

BUFFALO – Moments after Matt Ellis scored the shootout winner in Friday’s wild Rochester outdoor game, Americans coach Chadd Cassidy found his captain at center ice in the midst of the celebration.

Cassidy had a special message for Ellis, who also had a goal and an assist in the “Frozen Frontier” game, an exciting 5-4 triumph played in 18-degree temperatures.

“(He) said, ‘The only thing that made tonight better is me getting to ... Read the full article

Matt Ellis (37) battles Lake Erie’s Matt Hunwick outdoors Friday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Matt Ellis scores Amerks’ shootout winner in ‘Frozen Frontier,’ earns recall to Sabres

ROCHESTER – From a skill perspective, Chadd Cassidy had better options six rounds into Friday’s wild shootout. But the Americans coach wanted Matt Ellis, his trusted captain, to try to win the “Frozen Frontier,” an outdoor game played in 18-degree temperatures.

“With the game on the line, I want it on his tape because good things happen to good people,” Cassidy said. “There’s nobody that’s worked harder for the opportunities that he’s gotten than ... Read the full article

Nikita Zadorov has made three preseason appearances. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Junior still likely destination for Sabres prospect Nikita Zadorov after signing entry-level contract

BUFFALO – The three-year, entry-level contract defenseman Nikita Zadorov signed Wednesday doesn’t affect the 18-year-old’s immediate NHL future, Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said.

The team always intended to lock up Zadorov, the 16th overall pick in June, as quickly as possible. It’s only a coincidence the sides reached a deal in the midst of an impressive training camp from the Russian.

“I think if you can deal with it in his first year ... Read the full article

Marcus Foligno has three goals in two preseason outings. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Marcus Foligno impressing Sabres again early after forgettable season

BUFFALO – When Marcus Foligno’s dismal, five-goal season ended in April, the 22-year-old could’ve laid the blame on others or taken responsibility, Sabres coach Ron Rolston said.

“Whether they think it’s me or them, ultimately they got to make that change, and I think he took that ownership on that,” Rolston said Saturday prior to the Sabres’ 3-2 exhibition shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs before a capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the ... Read the full article

Joel Armia skates this morning. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres prospect Joel Armia set for home debut tonight

BUFFALO – The hype has been building since slick Finnish winger Joel Armia was selected 16th overall in 2011. In the 20-year-old, the Sabres possess a prospect so talented many believe he could crack the NHL right away.

Yet few have seen Armia, who spent the last three seasons playing at home in SM-liiga, up close.

Who exactly is this guy?

Fans will find out tonight, when Armia makes his Buffalo debut in the ... Read the full article

The Sabres picked Rasmus Ristolainen eighth overall in June. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Last four Sabres No. 1 picks to play tonight; Rasmus Ristolainen set for debut

BUFFALO – Four No. 1 picks from the last two years, including both 2013 selections, defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, will skate for the Sabres in tonight’s preseason opener in Montreal.

Expect to see the rebuilding Sabres showcase plenty of youth throughout the seven-game exhibition schedule, coach Ron Rolston said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.

“There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for those players, and they’re going to get a ... Read the full article

Ron Rolston took over as coach on Feb. 20. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres facing plenty of questions as first training camp under Ron Rolston begins

BUFFALO – The Sabres convene for training camp physicals today inside the First Niagara Center, for better or worse, almost the same team that ended a disappointing, 11th-place season 137 days ago.

Other than a busy draft day and reacquiring 34-year-old defenseman Henrik Tallinder, the rebuilding club remained quiet throughout the summer.

Starting goalie Ryan Miller and leading scorer Thomas Vanek, two veteran stars rumored to be on the trading block, ... Read the full article