Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

July 9, 2009

SABRES: Gerbe again a star at camp

LEWISTON — Little about Nathan Gerbe’s style of play looks different during this year’s Sabres development camp at Niagara University than it did in last year’s.

Gerbe is again one of the best players on the Dwyer Arena ice, if not the best. On Thursday, he wowed a sizable crowd by scoring on a nifty backhand during the week’s first scrimmage. This just a few minutes after scrapping with a defenseman who stands nearly a foot taller.

But while Gerbe has again been a hit in camp, he’s hoping everything that follows will play out differently. Despite a great rookie season with Portland in the American Hockey League, Gerbe has his sights set on playing in Buffalo this year, and he hopes this week’s camp is a springboard to a permanent NHL roster spot.

“My main goal is to play for Buffalo. Anything less and I’m going to be disappointed in myself,” Gerbe said after Thursday’s session. “If I have to go down to Portland, I’ll be disappointed but I’ll work as hard as I can to get back up. I know this is where I want to be.”

After leading Boston College to a national championship, Gerbe is the first to admit he was a little tight in his NHL appearances. While his stats in the AHL — 56 points in 57 games — were good enough to earn AHL rookie of the year honors, Gerbe managed just a single point in 10 starts with Buffalo. Despite having four shots on goal in his debut at Tampa Bay on Dec. 6, Gerbe never got into an offensive comfort zone.

He hopes that will change with a full year of pro hockey under his belt.

“When you get called up you’re nervous. You want to score that first goal in the first game, when you don’t do that, you start to press a bit, because expectations are high. That’s the name of the game. You’ve got to perform,” he said. “Maybe last year I tried to be too safe or too defensive. This year, I’m going to try to be more offensive and still be aware defensively.”

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