By Tim Schmitt
BUFFALO — The Sabres held a moment of silence prior to Wednesday’s game for former TV color analyst Pat Hannigan, who died in Welland, Ontario, on Tuesday. Hannigan teamed with Ted Darling on television broadcasts in the 1970s and early 1980s.
The native of Timmins, Ontario, played in 182 National Hockey League games, including two seasons with the New York Rangers. He was a member of the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League for five years and had a career-high 38 goals in Buffalo during the 1964-65 season.
But he was best known in Western New York as the voice alongside Darling, where he sat for nearly a decade.
“He had a great sense of humor,” Wayne Redshaw, who covered the Sabres for decades and is now a member of the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame Committee, said of Hannigan. “We called him ‘Hoolie,’ and Hoolie and Ted Darling were a great match. I thought they really complemented each other.
“Ted was the voice, but Hoolie knew his hockey. He always did his homework.”
Hannigan was 71.
It took him a second time, but Nolan Pratt finally got his first goal with the Sabres on Wednesday.
Pratt’s first-period goal opened the scoring as the Buffalo defenseman launched a soft shot that Paul Gaustad swiped at, but missed. The puck still got behind Isles’ goalie Rick DiPietro with 8:43 gone in the first.
Pratt had played 13 games without a goal for the Sabres, although it appeared he’d scored in his third game with the team. Pratt lofted a similar shot in a game against Montreal that went in and was originally credited with a goal. Video reviews showed Daniel Paille tipped that puck, however, and the goal was taken away from Pratt.
Drew Stafford thought he put the game on ice Wednesday when he scored what appeared to be a goal that would have given the Sabres a 6-3 lead in the third period.
Derek Roy passed to Thomas Vanek, who found Stafford alone. The winger appeared to poke the puck past DiPietro, but further review showed Stafford kicked the puck up in an attempt to get his stick on it, but missed.
Islanders’ defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron stirred controversy when he got into a heated exchange with assistant coach Gerard Gallant last week in Atlanta. Bergeron was angry because he felt he should have been used when the Isles had a 5-on-3 power play.
Bergeron didn’t do much to help his case Wednesday, as he had a glorious opportunity to pull the visitors within a goal during a late power play, but was robbed by Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. Trent Hunter made a cross-ice pass to Bergeron, who had most of the net to shoot at. Instead of burying the puck into the upper half, he slid a shot along the ice that Miller made an incredible save on.
Contact group sports editor Tim Schmitt at 282-2311, ext. 2266.