Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

June 28, 2008

SABRES: Butler hoping to answer bell

Prospect from Denver is a polished two-way player with plenty of potential.

LEWISTON — Although Dwyer Arena is a new home for the Buffalo Sabres’ developmental camp, little about the experience seems unfamiliar to defenseman Chris Butler.

The University of Denver product has already met and spent time with coaches and teammates at last year’s camp. When he sees South Buffalo native Tim Kennedy striding down the wing, there’s also a sense of deja vu. The pair spent two seasons with Sioux City of the United States Hockey League.

And even though Butler hasn’t played in Dwyer, he’s well acquainted with the Purple Eagles, who came to Denver for a series in early 2007.

The Pioneers swept Niagara in a two-game set between then-ranked opponents, although the first contest was a thriller. NU goalie Juliano Pagliero stopped 52 shots, but the hosts got a goal late in overtime to score a 2-1 victory.

“All I remember about that series is their goalie stood on his head,” Butler said of Pagliero.

But college is in Butler’s past. The 6-foot-1 blueliner signed a deal with the Sabres after a solid three-year career at DU, and was named a second-team All-American at the conclusion of his last season.

Although Butler had just 17 points last year, a drop from the 27 points he posted as a sophomore, he was the best defenseman on a team that entered the NCAA Tournament ranked fourth in the country, blocking a team-high 110 shots and leading the team in minutes played.

“He’s the ultimate two-way defenseman. He can and does provide offense, but he does it with minimal risk to his game,” current RPI head coach and former DU assistant Seth Appert told Inside College Hockey. “When he contributes offensively he does it by making great decisions. Chris is a rare defenseman that runs the first power play, but can also match against the other team’s top line.”

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