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Deadline Solidifies Foundation For Sabres Rebuild

Posted on March 6, 2014 by Chris Ostrander

HudsonIt may have taken a late flurry, but Tim Murray put his stamp on the organization with a firm, aggressive series of trades around the 2014 trade deadline.

He got started early by sending Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis on Friday and threw his hat in the ring with one of the earlier trades on Wednesday. Murray shipped Brayden McNabb, two second round picks and Jonathan Parker to Los Angeles for Hudson Fasching and Nicolas Deslauriers.

Murray’s punctuated his first deadline with two 11th hour deals involving three of this pending UFAs that ensured previous investments would continue to pay dividends. After finding a dance partner to take Matt Moulson (and Cody McCormick), Murray managed to flip Jaroslav Halak for a younger goaltender with term.

It was a productive deadline that provides the framework for the way Murray will shape the roster through the 2014 and 15 drafts. Two drafts that will see the Sabres make four (possibly five) first round selections.

Buffalo holds additional picks throughout the 2014 and 2015 second round and despite shipping two of them to Los Angeles along with McNabb, Murray came out even after pulling two second round picks in exchange for Moulson. I thought he put it well when he said the team was helped more by the two forwards acquired from LA.

Continue reading ‘Deadline Solidifies Foundation For Sabres Rebuild’

Scotty Bowman Showcase Returns April 9

Posted on March 6, 2014 by Buffalo Sabres Press Release

Scotty Bowman ShowcaseThe Buffalo Sabres today announced that the 10th Annual Scotty Bowman Showcase will take place on Wednesday, April 9th at First Niagara Center. The 2014 Scotty Bowman Showcase consists of three all-star hockey games between players from Buffalo, NY and their rivals from Rochester, NY. Admission for the games is $5.

The first game will begin at 6 p.m. with high school juniors from the two cities facing off against one another for the Tim Horton Memorial Cup. In 2013, the Buffalo juniors won the second annual Tim Horton Memorial Cup.

The next game will take place at 7:30 p.m. between high school seniors from each city. The winner of the second game will be awarded the Scotty Bowman Cup. This award and the event are named after the legendary Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history. Bowman will be in attendance to present the Bowman Cup to the victorious senior team. The Rochester seniors won last year’s Bowman Cup, improving to 3-6 in the event’s nine-year history.

The third game will feature players from Buffalo and Rochester who play prep school or junior hockey, either locally or elsewhere. The junior and senior-year high school-aged players will face off for the Rick Martin Memorial Cup at 9 p.m. All three games will consist of two 22-minute halves.

Continue reading ‘Scotty Bowman Showcase Returns April 9′

Sabres Trade Moulson, McCormick, Halak

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran

MoulsonBuffalo Sabres fans knew it wasn’t a matter of if but where he was going. In the waning minutes before the NHL trade deadline Wednesday afternoon, the Sabres finally traded forward Matt Moulson, along with Cody McCormick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for TorreyMitchell and second-round picks in 2014 and 2016.

Buffalo also traded goaltender Jaroslav Halak and a 2015 third-round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for goaltender Michael Neuvirth and defensemen Rostislav Klesla.

John Vogl of the Buffalo News was the first to report the news on both. The trades weren’t announced until after the deadline had passed.

Moulson scored 11 goals in 44 games for Buffalo after coming over from the New York Islanders along a first and second round draft pick for Thomas Vanek on October 27. He was/still is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

The end result shows the Sabres looking brilliant by dealing Vanek, who entered 2013-14 on the final year of his deal with no chance of re-signing with Buffalo beyond this season. Essentially the Sabres ended up with Moulson for a half-season plus a first-round pick and three second-rounders for a contract-expiring Vanek.

Vanek was dealt by the Islanders today to Montreal for a second-round pick and a prospect. I’d imagine Islander fans are calling for Garth Snow’s head right now.

Continue reading ‘Sabres Trade Moulson, McCormick, Halak’

Sabres Deal McNabb, Picks To Kings For Prospects

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Brayden McNabbAccording to reports, the Buffalo Sabres have traded defensemen Brayden McNabb along with two second-round draft picks and Jonathan Parker to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for prospects Hudson Fasching and Nicholas Deslaurier.

Fasching, 18, is the biggest name in this deal. He’s currently playing college hockey at the University of Minnesota, where he’s scored 12 goals and 27 points in 31 games this year.  A fourth-round pick of the Kings in 2013, Fasching is a big winger at six-feet-two and 218 pounds.

He also played for Team USA this year at the World Juniors, where he had two goals and an assist in 3 games.  Here’s a bio of his USA junior career.  If you want to know about his character, Kris Barker ( posted a link to this ESPN story from 2011 that’s well worth the read.

Deslaurier, a defensemen  who has been converting to forward, was the Kings third-round draft pick in 2009. In his third year in the Kings minor league system, Deslaurier has 18 goals and 39 points in 60 games with the AHL Manchester Monarchs this season.

Here’s more information about Deslaurier, written last September courtesy of SB Nation.

McNabb, 23 was the 66th pick of the Sabres in the 2009 draft. The defensemen has played in 37 NHL games in parts of the past two seasons with the Sabres, scoring a goal and adding seven assists. McNabb is regarded as one of the Sabres best prospects, but the team has solid depth when it comes to talented young defensemen in the system.

McNabb has seven goals and 22 assists in 38 games for Rochester this season.

The two second-rounder the Sabres surrendered in the trade were the same Buffalo acquired when trading Robyn Regehr to LA last year–on each in 2014 and ’15.

Continue reading ‘Sabres Deal McNabb, Picks To Kings For Prospects’

Sabres Claim Conacher Off Waivers

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran

ConacherThe Buffalo Sabres have claimed Ottawa Senators forward Cory Conacher off waivers.  Of course, Conacher has strong local ties as he once starred for the Canisius College hockey team.

Conacher, 24, went undrafted but earned his way onto the Tampa Bay roster in 2012-13 and scored 24 points in 35 games.  He was traded to Ottawa in exchange for goaltender Ben Bishop last April and at the time of the deal was the second leading rookie scorer in the NHL.

He finished sixth last season in Calder Cup voting, given annual to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Conacher struggled with Ottawa, particularly this season as he scored just four goals and had 20 points in 60 games with the club before being placed on waivers yesterday.

He has 15 goals and 49 points in 107 games, including four game-winning goals. With Ottawa he had 25 points in 72 games.

Continue reading ‘Sabres Claim Conacher Off Waivers’

Bills Extend Aaron Williams

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran

aaron williamsThe Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday morning that the team has signed Aaron Williams to a contract extension.  Terms weren’t released by the team but according to Mike Garafolo the deal is for four years and $26 million.

Pro Football Talk cites a source saying Williams’ deal includes a $6.5 million signing bonus and $14.625 million guaranteed.

Williams was slated to enter the final year of his four-year, $5.2 million deal this season.

The former 2011 second-round pick was a complete disaster at cornerback his first two years in the league and seemed destined to join a long line of Buffalo Bills early round draft pick busts.  However, Williams converted to safety last offseason under then-defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and the results were astounding.  Sure, Williams was still occasionally prone to getting beat and drew too many boneheaded penalties, but he also picked off four passes in 2013 and had a  consistent impact in Buffalo’s improved defense.

The Bills said the deal is completely independent of any other deals being worked on with other free agents, but the reality is this pretty much assures Jairus Byrd is gone.  There’s no way the Bills are going to commit over $14 million in annual salary to a pair of safeties.

I don’t mind Williams getting signed. I’ve been adamant after watching Andy Levrite and presumably Byrd walk away over the past two offseasons that the Bills need to start being more proactive in extending young players before they reach their contract year. I do, however, worry that Williams isn’t established enough for my liking.  Clearly the Bills are rolling the dice with this move.  According to Spotrac Williams for the time being becomes the sixth-highest average paid safety in the NFL.

Rejoice: Bills Postpone Toronto Series

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Bills TorontoAfter a week where nothing’s been positive, there’s finally some good news for Buffalo sports fans on Wednesday morning.  The Buffalo Bills formally announced that the organization’s “Toronto Series’ has been postponed for 2014, meaning for the first time in seven years the Bills will play all eight of their home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.

Rejoice, Bills fanatics.

“We will use this time to collectively evaluate opportunities to enhance future games.” Bills president Russ Brandon tweeted.

While the Bills insist that for at least the time being the series is merely on hiatus, a report by Tim Graham of the Buffalo News is far more telling. In his article Graham cites a source telling him that Brandon’s said the series in Toronto will continue “over his dead body.”

The deal had been a huge success for Buffalo, at least financially as Toronto paid Ralph Wilson $78 million for five regular season and three preseason games at the Rogers Centre.  However, that money came with an unmistakable price on the field as the games, at best felt like a neutral contest for Buffalo, which is no small reason the team has went just 1-5 in Toronto with last year’s overtime loss to Atlanta perhaps the final straw.  The game was attended by fewer than 40,000 fans.

Continue reading ‘Rejoice: Bills Postpone Toronto Series’

Slow Starts Dooms UB At Akron

Posted on March 4, 2014 by University at Buffalo Press Release

UB LogoThe University at Buffalo men’s basketball team had its four-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night as the Bulls got down early and fell at Akron, 83-71.  The loss drops the Bulls to 18-9 and 12-5 in the MAC, still one game ahead of the Zips in the MAC East heading into the final regular season contest.

Akron got off to a quick start in front of the home crowd, racing out to a 21-7 lead just six minutes into the ball game.  The Bulls continued to trail by 14 with 12:19 left when they went on an 11-0 run, capped off on a layup from senior Javon McCrea.  The Bulls would cut even closer as a pair of free throws from freshman Shannon Evans pulled the Bulls within one with 2:44, but those would be UB’s last points of the half as Akron went into the break up, 35-30.

Senior Joshua Freelove was scoreless in the first half, but came out firing in the second half, hitting a three to open the final 20 minutes, en route to 17 second-half points.  UB opened the second half on a 17-7 run, taking its largest lead of the game at 47-42 with 14:49 left.  The Bulls continued to lead by five when Akron went on an 11-0 run to retake a 56-50 lead with 10:47 left in the second half.

A three from sophomore Jarryn Skeete cut the deficit back to three, but the Zips went on another 15-5 run to take a 71-58 lead with 3:18 left.  The Zips went on to score their final 13 points from the free throw line over the final 3:18 of the game to preserve the lead.

Continue reading ‘Slow Starts Dooms UB At Akron’

Report: McClain To Visit Bills

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Patrick Moran

McClainLast week the Baltimore Ravens released linebacker Jameel McClain at least in part because his release saved the team $3.2 million in salary cap room.  Since McClain is a vested veteran the move made him free to sign with any team in advance of free agency on March 11, and it appears the Buffalo Bills could be an option.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Tuesday evening that McClain will visit with the Bills on Wednesday.

McClain, 28, had 52 tackles in 10 games last season after missing 10 months with a career-threatening spinal injury.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome spoke highly of McClain in a statement following his release.

“Jameel is a Ravens’ success story who came to us as a rookie free agent. He changed positions from playing on the defensive line and outside to becoming a good inside linebacker and starter. People close to our team understand his commitment to being the best he can be and the leadership he gave on and off the field.”

McClain was signed by Baltimore as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse University (he played there before Doug Marrone became their coach) and has started 55 games in Baltimore, racking up 332 career tackles and 4.5 sacks.

**UPDATE** WGR’s Joe Buscaliga reports that McCain wrapped up his meeting with the Bills Wednesday afternoon and is meeting with the New York Giants next.

HS: Olean vs East Lived Up To The Hype

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Chad "Centercourt" Andrews

HS HoopsWe waited all season long for it.

Olean vs. East for the overall Class B title.

It was billed as the game of the year before the season even began.  After playing each other at Buff State in the three seasons prior, the final chapter of this four-year rivalry had to be written.  They were the only two schools to occupy the top spot in the small school poll this year. Certainly there were times this season when the case could be made for either team, times when each team played at such a high level, you were convinced they were the best.  I personally went back-and-forth on it – Olean…no East…wait, Olean has turned the corner…hold on, East has its chip back.

Tough for a game to live up to the kind of season-long hype it was given.  But just before tip, I looked around the Buffalo Sports Arena to see the place was full – a bigger crowd than even the Class AA final drew.  You could see the championship swagger in the eyes of the Olean players.  The chip on the shoulders of East’s players complimented the focused scowls on their faces.  There was an undeniable buzz in the air that happens before a special game.

It was a special game.  It lived up to all the hype and then some, creating more lasting memories.  The game of the year was just that – a thriller between #1 & #2 that wasn’t decided until after the clock showed all zeros.

Continue reading ‘HS: Olean vs East Lived Up To The Hype’

Source: Bills Offer To Byrd “Blew Away” Goldson’s

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Patrick Moran

BYRDI don’t know the actual number, but according to a team source the Buffalo Bills last contract offer to Jairus Byrd “blew away” the five-year, $41.25 million deal 2013 free agent Dashon Goldson signed for with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason.

While the Bills organization is taking a public relations beating for not placing the franchise tag on Byrd, an entirely different matter, I’m told the Bills efforts to lock up their primary free agent have been legitimate. The Associated Press reported a few days ago that Byrd turned down an offer that included $30 million over the first three years of a proposed deal. How much of that was guaranteed wasn’t made public, but a source claims it was for more than the $18 million guaranteed Goldson got from the Buccaneers.

Saying Byrd simply doesn’t want to play for the Bills going forward would be nothing but speculation on my part. From what I gather Byrd has never told people close to him that his time in Buffalo is definitely over.

What I have heard, via the same source is the salary cap increasing by $10 million in 2014 is a significant factor in Byrd rejecting any Bills offer in advance of free agency.

Eugene Parker, Byrd’s agent clearly feels the hefty cap hike will bring more suitors into play when NFL shopping season begins on March 11. Including today the Bills still have four more days to talk exclusively with Byrd, but there’s no way he’s re-signing before free agency without learning what competing offers are out there.

Again, the probability of Byrd leaving is high, but concluding so before free agency starts is not accurate. I’m told Bills general manager Doug Whaley “wasn’t lying and is being truthful” when it comes to wanting Byrd to remain in Buffalo and the team will continue to try and work out a deal.

The Bills, according to the source have not been told by Byrd that the door is closed on a return. Having said that, they’ve negotiated several times without coming to an agreement, which makes Byrd bolting for another organization come March 11 seem highly likely. Another noteworthy factor beyond money is Byrd being  unhappy with the stability of the organization.  Were he to remain in Buffalo he’d be playing for his fifth defensive coordinator in six years.  I’m told that’s a thought that really bothers him.

Bills Unofficially Say Bye To Byrd

Posted on March 3, 2014 by Patrick Moran

jarius-byrd2The deadline has passed with the Buffalo Bills having declined to place the franchise tag on Jairus Byrd.  The Bills could’ve retained his rights for 2014 by designating him and paying $8.4 million for 2014, with an opportunity to agree to a long-term deal up through mid-July.

While technically Byrd can still negotiate with the Bills exclusively before March 11 and as a free agent after that, don’t be mistaken—Byrd has played his last down as a Buffalo Bill.

So since the start of the offseason the Bills have now lost their defensive coordinator and arguably their best player.

Sounds promising.

I largely refrain from letting emotions getting the better of me when it comes to Bills personnel decisions. I consider is my duty to bring readers information and when possible, insight.  In the case, however, I got nothing positive to spin when it comes to this organization right now.  Quite frankly, the fan in me is incensed.

It’s been reported the Bills made an aggressive offer to Byrd recently, which was rejected, and at that time the front office decided they wouldn’t tag Byrd, likely knowing he won’t commit to the organization long-term.

Continue reading ‘Bills Unofficially Say Bye To Byrd’

Ruff Picks Up 600th Win Against Sabres

Posted on March 3, 2014 by Patrick Moran

SabresThe Buffalo Sabres saw their three-game winning streak end in Dallas on Monday night, falling to the Stars, 3-2 in entertaining fashion.

Does anyone really care?

With so much going on with the Sabres these days, a game result is almost the furthest thing from any fan’s mind. The big news is that for at least Monday, the team didn’t make any roster moves.

That’s not likely to be the case for Tuesday and Wednesday, which is deadline day. It’s almost a certainty that Matt Moulson will be dealt and there’s a growing list of names generating plenty of buzz, a list that includes Christian Ehrhoff, Henrik Tallinder and newly acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak along with forward Chris Stewart.

If there is a positive to take away from the game itself Monday, it’s the play of Jhonas Enroth.  The Sabres netminder was the best player on the ice in making 36 saves against the Stars, many of them superb ones at that. He was rewarded accordingly with the game’s first star.  That’s consecutive games of Enroth being mostly spectacular between the pipes, giving at least some fans and more importantly the organization some hope that he can develop into a reliable No. 1 goalie now that Ryan Miller is departed.

Continue reading ‘Ruff Picks Up 600th Win Against Sabres’

Miller Successful In Blues Debut

Posted on March 3, 2014 by Patrick Moran

miller blues

Ryan Miller’s debut with the St. Louis Blues was a successful one Sunday evening.

Miller surrendered a goal in both the first and second periods, but his teammates picked him up with four unanswered tallies in the third as the Blues beat the Phoenix Coyotes on the road, 4-2.  Miller finished the game with 23 saves.

Teammate Steve Ott came to St. Louis in the trade last Friday along with Miller. He didn’t score but did finish the night with two shots on net and three hits in 13:58 of ice time.

Miller could make his home debut on Tuesday when the Blues host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Report: Bills Unlikey To Tag Byrd

Posted on March 2, 2014 by Patrick Moran

Jairus ByrdThe Buffalo Bills have until 4pm Monday to use the franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd.  According to a report from WGR’s Joe Buscaglia, it’s unlikely to happen.

Buscaglia cites a source that says not only are the Bills unlikely to use the tag again on Byrd before Monday’s deadline, they’re also unlikely to reach any type of deal with Byrd before the three-time Pro Bowler reaches free agency on March 11.

Translation— so long, Jairus Byrd.

In theory the Bills could still sign Byrd to a long-term deal before free agency begins and technically still can even after shopping season begins, but the reality is once tomorrow passes without the Bills tagging Byrd, his Buffalo career will become a thing of the past.

It would cost the Bills $8.43 million…and plenty of headaches to tag Byrd again.

Continue reading ‘Report: Bills Unlikey To Tag Byrd’

Opinion: LaFontaine’s Departure Shouldn’t Alter Direction

Posted on March 2, 2014 by Chris Ostrander

Pat LOnly the Sabres could find a way to overshadow the news that they had traded their franchise goaltender.

News of Pat LaFontaine’s resignation came less than 24 hours after Ryan Miller and Steve Ott had been traded to St. Louis and managed to throw Sabres Nation into a tizzy. As the news broke fans and media alike scrambled to find an explanation for the decision with the Sabres’ news conference earlier today offering little clarity on the proceedings.

Ted Black confirming that LaFontaine’s departure was known for a few days prior Friday’s trade indicates that whatever discord existed had been brewing for some time. Exactly what the genesis of the divorce was is what’s being so hotly speculated.

Some indicate that LaFontaine was lobbying for retaining Miller and trying to re-sign him with the decision to trade him leading him to step down. Others are jumping to the conclusion that LaFontaine was leaned on to resign or else be fired by those in management. It’s also being suggested that perhaps Tim Murray isn’t planning on extending Ted Nolan and that LaFontaine was going down with Nolan and the ship.

Continue reading ‘Opinion: LaFontaine’s Departure Shouldn’t Alter Direction’

Griffs Fall at Manhattan in Season Finale

Posted on March 2, 2014 by Canisius College Press Release

CanisiusManhattan guard George Beamon scored a game-high 21 points, highlighted by his steal and layup late in the game to give Manhattan a three-point lead, and teammate RaShawn Stores added 15 points and three assists as the host Jaspers defeated Canisius 68-63 Sunday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams in the Draddy Gymnasium.

With the loss, the Golden Griffins end the regular season with a 20-11 overall record and a 14-6 mark in MAAC play. Canisius has earned the No. 4 seed in next weekend’s MAAC Championship Tournament in Springfield, Mass., where the Blue and Gold will meet No. 5 seed Siena on Saturday, March 8 in the quarterfinal round. That game will tipoff at 2:30 p.m., and will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and AM-1400 in Buffalo.

Canisius senior Chris Perez led the way offensively for the Griffs with his team-high 13 points. Fellow senior Billy Baron added 10 points and four assists, while freshman Zach Lewis scored eight points, which all came in the second half. Redshirt-sophomore Dominique Raney had eight points off the bench and junior Josiah Heath chipped in six points and two rebounds as the Griffs ended the game by shooting 37.3 percent from the floor, 30 percent from 3-point land and 77.3 percent from the free-throw line.

Continue reading ‘Griffs Fall at Manhattan in Season Finale’

Friday Bills News & Notes

Posted on February 21, 2014 by Patrick Moran

BillsHere are a few Buffalo Bills related items I’m hearing on Friday via various people. I wouldn’t call it any of it groundbreaking, but perhaps it’s worth a glance anyway.

Of course, the big-ticket Bills saga this offseason remains the Jairus Byrd contract watch. Buffalo is currently in the window of opportunity to franchise tag the pending free agent again, this time at a cost of around $8.3 million. The Bills obviously want Byrd back, and I have no inside knowledge on what they’re willing to pay to retain him long term.  What I do know, or should say have heard is there’s no way Byrd is signing for a penny less than being the highest paid safety in the league.  I reported on January 21 that Byrd is looking for at least $9 million per year. Now I’m hearing he may actually want more to not test the open market.

The sides haven’t formally met to try and iron out a deal, although that’s expected in the coming days.  From what I gather Byrd is determined to see how much he can fetch as a free agent and as crazy as it sounds, his number could land very close to $10 million annually.  The list of suitors around the league would be formidable, with Indianapolis, Miami, Green Bay and Cleveland among the possible destinations.  Make no mistake about it—Byrd will be a hot commodity if he reaches the market.

Having said that, even in the worst case the Bills still have control of Byrd for another year, should they choose to go down the same path as 2013.

As far as a potential tag-and-trade goes, that’s one area where Byrd actually has leverage. Any team willing to deal for Byrd will have to agree to a long-term deal before surrendering a draft pick of any value.  If Byrd doesn’t like the situation he can simply inform an interested franchise that he’ll refuse to sign beyond 2014.  There isn’t a team, at least not one with sense that will trade a first or second rounder to what may amount as a rental player.  Like it or not, this isn’t the NHL, folks.

Continue reading ‘Friday Bills News & Notes’

Griffs Fall Short Against Quinnipiac

Posted on February 20, 2014 by Canisius College Press Release

GriffsQuinnipiac senior guard Umar Shannon scored 26 points and fellow guard Zaid Hearst chipped in 21 points, five assists and four rebounds as the visiting Bobcats defeated Canisius 88-81 in front of a sold-out Koessler Athletic Center Thursday night. The win was Quinnipiac’s sixth straight and improves the team to 19-7 overall and 13-4 in MAAC play, while the Golden Griffins saw their two-game winning streak come to and end with the loss. Canisius is now 18-10 overall and 12-5 in conference action.

For Canisius, senior guard Billy Baron scored a game-high 31 points in the loss, his eighth game of 30 points or more this season. He also added six assists, four rebounds and three steals to the Griffs’ effort. Senior forward Chris Manhertz, who returned to the starting line-up after missing three games with a broken nose, had 14 points and seven rebounds and senior Chris Perez chipped in 14 points as well. Canisius shot 44 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from 3-point land in the loss while turning the ball over just five times, but Quinnipiac controlled the rebounding battle, as the Bobcats out rebounded the Griffs by a 49-27 count.

“Quinnipiac is a very, very physical team and they crash the boards on every shot,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “It’s an attitude. They go up for the ball with a purpose. When we beat them at their place, we did it because we matched them on the glass. Tonight, to their credit, they hit shots and got rebounds, and they never really allowed us to get out in transition.”

Canisius, which trailed by as many as 19 in the opening moments of the second half, was down 68-52 with 3:41 left in the game after Quinnipiac senior Ike Azotam scored on a lay-up. From there, the Griffs tried to battle back, using a 14-5 run over the span of 1:56 to make the score 73-66 in favor of the Bobcats. During that run, Baron scored six points for the Griffs and was credited with an assist on a made 3-point field goal by fellow senior Jordan Heath. After Quinnipiac took a nine-point lead at 77-68 with 1:17 left, Baron hit a 3-pointer in transition on the Griffs’ next trip down the floor to make it a six-point contest at 77-71 with 1:14 left on the clock.

Continue reading ‘Griffs Fall Short Against Quinnipiac’

Lodi Dodi, Vanek Likes To Party

Posted on February 20, 2014 by Patrick Moran

VanekFans and officials in Austria aren’t happy with how their hockey team was represented in the Olympics, and it appears that former Buffalo Sabres captain Thomas Vanek is catching the brunt of it.

While Austria wasn’t regarded as legitimate medal contenders, more was expected of them in Russia.  Instead, the team went just 1-4 in the Olympics and were soundly eliminated by Slovenia, 4-0 in the pre-quarterfinals.

The backlash is in full swing courtesy of Austrian Ice Hockey Federation President Deiter Kalt.  It’s been reported several members of the team, including Vanek were out drinking at a bar until the wee hours of the morning leading up to their elimination game against Slovenia.

For his part, Vanek had just one assist in four games and carried a minus-12 rating.

“He also chose Vanek as team captain to  have an experienced player and this obviously went wrong.” Kalt said of Austria head coach Manny Viveiros.

Viveriros said the team partying had a profound negative impact on their game against the Slovs.

“This was our fourth game in the last seven days against three teams who are among the best in the world,” he said.  “This costs a lot of energy.  We only had a small training before the match against Slovenia because regeneration is so important.”

Austrian Olympic Committee president Karl Stross said in a news conference that they will publish a full list of the players involved and the consequences for each of them.

Vanek will be a NHL unrestricted free agent this summer. I highly doubt his Olympic performance will affect his next contract.  Still, it’s not a good look for him, assuming of course everything is true.

Grading The 2011 Bills Draft – 3 Years Later

Posted on February 20, 2014 by Patrick Moran

DareusA rule of thumb when assessing any NFL draft is to let things simmer for three full seasons before serving up any grades. Fortunately for the Buffalo Bills, remaining loyal to that formula makes the 2011 class look plenty more appealing than if you jumped the gun.

The Bills 2011 draft appeared disastrous if you rendered a verdict one year ago, especially considering the team had two of the first 34 picks.  One NFL campaign later that Buddy Nix-orchestrated train wreck is more pleasant on the eyes when reviewing the list, as the first two picks became important pieces to a defense that emerged among the league’s best in several significant categories.

The Bills finished second in the NFL with a franchise-best 57 sacks and also finishing second in the league with 23 interceptions. It was a significant ascent from the 36 sacks and 12 interception totals the Bills accumulated in 2012.

Marcell Dareus and Aaron Williams, the Bills first two picks in 2011 deserve a lot of credit for the rising.

But as a whole, how was that Bills draft class? Most would say it’s ranged from by and large pedestrian to downright inadequate, especially when you see how agonizingly close future NFL superstars came off the board just moments after several Bills selections.

Let’s take a closer look and hand out a final grade:

Continue reading ‘Grading The 2011 Bills Draft – 3 Years Later’

Bulls Outlast Akron in Shootout, 96-90

Posted on February 20, 2014 by University at Buffalo Press Release

UBThe University at Buffalo men’s basketball team shot 63.3% from the floor, its fifth highest total in school history, as the Bulls defeated Akron, 96-90, Wednesday evening at Alumni Arena.  For the first time since 1999, the Bulls had three players score at least 20 points, led by Javon McCrea who just missed recording the first triple-double in school history with 20 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high eight assists.

The victory improves Buffalo to 15-8, surpassing its win total from last year, and putting the Bulls in a first place tie in the MAC East at 9-4.

The two teams showed early that it was going to be a high-scoring affair as the Bulls shot nearly 68% in the first half.  However, Akron stayed in the contest, hitting six first half three pointers and shooting 54.8% itself in the opening half.  Neither team led by more than six points in the opening half and Akron did take its only two leads midway through the half.  The Zips led 24-22 with 8:53 left when the Bulls went on a 6-0 run following a pair of three pointers from Will Regan and Joshua Freelove.  The Zips tied the game back up at 35-35, but another Freelove three pointer and a McCrea dunk put the Bulls on top for the remainder of the night.  A dunk from McCrea in the final seconds of the half gave UB a 48-42 lead into the break.

UB was consistently good offensively on Wednesday evening as it followed its 48 points in the first half up with 48 more in the second.  UB opened up the second half on an 8-2 run, capped off on a Freelove three as Akron called the quick timeout.  The Bulls got their lead up to as many as 14 following a steal and a fast-break jam from senior Jarod Oldham, giving the Bulls a 60-46 lead with 16:04 left.

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The Daily Links – February 20, 2014

Posted on February 20, 2014 by BSD Staff Reports

Daily Links LogoChris Brown of the Bills official website writes that Doug Marrone and his coaching staff are ahead of the game in his second season with the Buffalo Bills.

When it comes to the NFL draft, Rob Quinn of Forged in Buffalo thinks that despite his talent, the Bills may be best served to avoid North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron.

Buffalo Rumblings offers a quick, but still detailed comparison between Jim Schwartz and Dave Wannstedt when it comes to comparing base defenses.

WGR’s Joe Buscaglia lists five Buffalo Bills things to watch out for at the 2014 NFL Combine.

If there is a system that doesn’t fit UB prospect Khalil Mack, Mike Mayock has yet to find it.

Swedish-born forward Linus Omark intends to pursue his career in Europe after getting his release from the Buffalo Sabres. Omark went unclaimed on Tuesday, a day after the Sabres placed him on unconditional waivers, the player’s agent Kevin Epp said in an email to The Associated Press.

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Canisius’ Gibbons Named Senior CLASS Award Finalist

Posted on February 19, 2014 by Canisius College Press Release

GibbonsSenior forward Kyle Gibbons, a standout for the Canisius College hockey team, has been named one of 10 finalists nationally for the Senior CLASS Award.

The 10 finalists were selected from a list of 20 Division I candidates by a national media committee. A nationwide vote now begins and runs through March 31. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches’ votes to determine a winner (CLICK HERE TO VOTE).

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in the community.

On the ice, Gibbons has enjoyed one of the more successful careers in the program’s history. He currently ranks fourth in the school’s Division I history with 121 career points and second with 55 career goals. He leads the Griffs with 29 points, 13 goals and eight power-play tallies during his senior campaign.

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Ranking List Of Potential Bills Cuts

Posted on February 19, 2014 by Patrick Moran

PearsIf there’s one thing about this year’s Super Bowl worth savoring, assuming you’re no Seattle Seahawks fan is that the second the clock struck zero on Denver’s debacle (and sorry Peyton, but it was “embarrassing”), the NFL season officially concluded and there’s now 32 teams back to having a .500 record.

It’s going to be an interesting offseason around the league for many teams, and that list should include the Buffalo Bills. For starters and by far most prominently, the front office must decide not if they want to retain Jairus Byrd, but what lengths they’re willing to go in order to make that happen. I reported a few weeks ago Byrd had no interest in signing a deal for anything less than making him the highest paid safety in the league.  Or of course, they can franchise tag him again.

The organization also has less nerve-racking decisions to make on a few other free agents of their own, including Scott Chandler, Alex Carrington and Dan Carpenter among others.

Then come March 11 there’s free agency.  While the Bills won’t be voiceless during the open shopping period, I strongly suspect they’ll be dedicated to using the majority of their cap space into keeping key players that could become free agents in 2015—a list that may include Marcell Dareus, C.J. Spiller,  Aaron Williams, Jerry Hughes and Fred Jackson.

It culminates with the NFL draft, set to begin on May 8. For a team trying to halt a 14-year playoff drought, nailing the ninth overall selection (among other picks) is as essential as ever.

But more on that another time.

Before more significant parts of the offseason begins, teams around the league will spend the next several weeks cutting some dead weight from their roster and/or cap salaries that simply don’t fit. The Bills are no exception.

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