Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

September 28, 2012

Sabres stuck in Rochester trying to embrace unique opportunity

BUFFALO — They’re back for another unexpected AHL run, kicked to the minors again by the NHL lockout.

Marcus Foligno dominated at times during his late-season recall, compiling six goals and 13 points in a rollicking 12-game stretch. By mid-March, the winger had become a star and a Sabres fan favorite.

Center Cody Hodgson, meanwhile, established himself as a regular last year, scoring 19 goals while setting a league record for road appearances.

Both would be virtual locks to make the big club and hold pivotal roles as top forwards. Tonight they could’ve been playing in the Sabres’ fourth preseason contest.

Instead, they’ll be up early for the Rochester Americans’ 6:30 a.m. training camp session inside the First Niagara Center.

They’re minor leaguers until further notice.

“You just hope there’s a deal done before Christmas, that’s for sure,” Foligno said Friday following the Amerks’ first on-ice camp session. “But for me, I’m excited to go down to Rochester and develop again. I’m still young. I’m only 21. I got a lot of years ahead of me.”

Of course, Foligno and Hodgson aren’t alone. Winger Corey Tropp became a regular late in 2011-12 and figured to have an inside track for a spot. Forward Luke Adam, one of the NHL’s top rookies early last year, would’ve been given a long look, too.

“It’s not where we plan to start the season or how I plan to start the season,” Adam said. “At the same time, with the lockout we’re really fortunate to be able to play. There’s a lot of guys right now just sitting around at home, skating on their own not knowing what’s going on.”

This isn’t the first time a work stoppage has forced prospects to Rochester. Much of the Sabres’ recent core group – Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek and others – spent the entire 2004-05 lockout together in the AHL.

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