Niagara Gazette

Local News

October 28, 2006

Sabres hoping to make history tonight

Austin Willison spent Friday afternoon peering through a SportsPlex window, watching a friend’s indoor soccer team in action.

But make no mistake, the 12-year-old North Tonawanda resident’s heart wasn’t kicking a ball around.

“I’ve been making sure everything’s clear just so I can watch the Sabres (on Saturday),” said Willison, who plays for the Wheatfield Blades. “I definitely don’t want to miss it. They’re good. Really good.”

Willison isn’t alone in making time for today’s historic game. With a win over the Atlanta Thrashers at HSBC Arena, the Sabres would eclipse the league record for most wins to start a season with 11. The 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only other team in league history to open the year with 10 wins.

Mike Gilbert, the Sabres’ director of public relations, said media credential requests for tonight’s game rival a big playoff tilt. TV networks from Canada are coming for live shoots. Sports Business Journal wants a seat. The Hockey News is sending a reporter. Sports Illustrated is planning a story and wants to attend.

“We’re sometimes busy like this in April, not October,” Gilbert said. “It’s not anything crazy, it’s just the volume of requests is incredible high for this time of year.”

The Sabres, once a franchise in dire financial straits, aren’t having trouble filling the 18,690 seats for home games like they did in recent years. In fact, the Sabres sold 6,000 more individual game tickets on Thursday and Gilbert expected to do about the same volume on Friday. That means just 30,000 total tickets out of the season’s 764,650 seats remain.

“The next time a person can just walk up to the box office and buy a ticket for that night’s game is in January,” Gilbert said. “And that’s as of right now.”

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