Today, it was announced on Sabres Hockey Hotline on WGR550 and confirmed by other sources that USA Hockey, Terry Pegula, and the Buffalo Sabres will announce tomorrow at Ralph Wilson Stadium that the World Junior Hockey Championships will be held in Buffalo in 2018. This is a big deal and we need to really recognize the impact that Harbor Center and Terry Pegula have had in making this happen. We don’t know all the details yet, or why they are making the announcement at the Ralph, but there is speculation that Buffalo might also be getting another Winter Classic, as 2018 will be the 10th anniversary of the first Winter Classic at the Ralph, or that there will be an outdoor game between Canada and USA. We will find out tomorrow at 3 PM.
Now back to our regular hockey programming…
Red Wings 5 – Sabres 4 OT
On Tuesday the Sabres fought back valiantly but ended up losing in a shootout to the Red Wings in Detroit. The game started off slowly with Detroit scoring two soft goals, but in the second and third periods we came back and played like our hair was on fire taking a 4-3 lead. Then with about 8 minutes remaining, as Detroit was skating the puck into our zone, Brian Gionta inexplicably grabbed a Detroit player away from the puck and took him down, and an interference penalty was called. There was no need for him to drag anyone down there and as Captain, he cannot be making that play. Gionta has looked like the worst player on the ice for us in the past few weeks and it is inexplicable to me that he is getting so much ice time and starting in overtime.
However, there were bright spots in the game. Rasmus Ristolainen had 4 assists on the night, but then for some reason the league took one away and he was only officially credited with 3; bottom line, he created all four Sabres goals. He is leading the team in ice-time and is near the top of the league in that category. Evander Kane had his first two goal game for Buffalo and also got into it with Pavel Datsyuk and showed some real fire in the game. He needs to keep playing that way. That is his game and when he is on, he is one of the best players in the league. Big Z also had his second goal of the season and if he gets going, lookout league. Also, Linus Ullmark came back to have a strong game after giving up a pair of soft goals and not cutting down the angle on Drew Miller. He made a great save with his face on a backhand by Datsyuk.
I liked the anger and fight that the team played with on Tuesday after a lackluster first period. The Red Wings tried to push them around and they responded by punching Detroit in the mouth and putting them on their butts; only a stupid penalty by our floundering Captain let Detroit back in the game, and without Little Tigger Ennis, we really don’t have much to work with in a shootout. I wouldn’t mind seeing Gionta traded and the “C” being immediately switched to Ryan O’reilly. Go Sabres, beat Phoenix tomorrow!
Philip Wilkins is a Baltimore Orioles fan, Buffalo transplant. Grew up in Connecticut but born in Maryland. Graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder – Go Buffs! Lived in San Francisco after college. Moved to Buffalo in 2009 after spending a half-year abroad in Australia and New Zealand. Life-long Baseball, Hockey, and Football fan. Sabres fan since NHL ’94 for Sega Genesis came out with the Sabres’ top line of Alexander Mogilny, Pat LaFontaine and Dale Howerchuck with Alexei Zhitnik and Richard Smehlik on D and Domink Hasek in net – best lineup in the game!
“I believe that the Sabres were robbed in ’99 when Hull’s skate was in the crease. Now Buffalo is home and I am looking for a Cup and a Super Bowl in short order. We have the talent and the coaching and the ownership – what is stopping us?”
Go Bills, Go Sabres, Go Bisons!