Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

March 21, 2008

SABRES NOTEBOOK: Vanek’s goals, penalty minutes keep rising

BUFFALO — The Thomas Vanek roller coaster ride continued Friday, as the Sabres winger picked up his 100th career goal during Buffalo’s 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at HSBC Arena.

With the Sabres trailing 2-0, Vanek tipped a floater from Derek Roy that eluded Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala.

The goal was Vanek’s 32nd of the season, and his fourth in two games. He’d scored just one time in his previous eight games.

•••

While Vanek’s offense has been resurgent, he’s also stockpiling penalty minutes. Vanek took a two-minute minor for tripping early in the third that didn’t cost the Sabres, but came at a horrible time. He added another penalty in the final minutes.

That marked the fifth time in six games that the winger has been sent to the box. On the season, Vanek has 60 PIMs, passing tough guy Adam Mair for sole possession of fifth most on the roster.

•••

Still waiting to hear who they’ll face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Niagara University men’s hockey Purple Eagles got a chance to show off their College Hockey America trophy during the first period of Friday’s game.

Coach Dave Burkholder was joined by Matt Caruana, Vince Rocco, Kyle Rogers and Chris Moran in a camera shot on the HSBC Arena Jumbotron. The team watched the game from the auxiliary press box.

Burkholder said Friday’s game was a perfect one for his team to see.

“Our locker room’s split, about half of our guys are Sabres fans and the other half are Leafs fans,” he said. “For us to get to come be here like this was really special. And I can’t thank the Sabres enough. They were really great to do that. It was great exposure for our program.”

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