I’ve been a Sabres fan since I’ve been knee-high to a grasshopper (as my mom always says). My earliest memories are of hearing Rick Jeanneret roaring “LALALALALAFONTAINE!” and “Alexander the Great!” I even remember one time my babysitter didn’t believe my brother and me that we were allowed to listen to the Sabres game and I locked myself in the bathroom. My family has never had cable so I’ve always had to just listen to hockey games or find a friend’s house to crash and watch the game. My friends and I had a “Sabres fund” in middle school where we would save up money, have garage sales, and the like so when we had enough money, we’d buy tickets to a Sabres game. In high school during the slump years of the Sabres I even had a six pack of tickets (and made it to a few other games that season too). On most other game nights, I’d head over to my friend’s house to watch the game. I was lucky to have some friends who were also huge hockey/Sabres fans because I had someone to go to games and scream my head of with. This was especially true when we were at Leafs/Sabres games and being surrounded by Leafs fans- not the safest feeling as a teenage girl, but I didn’t care, I out screamed them all. Then there was a year off, which was possibly the longest year of my life.
Last year was absolutely amazing. Where I am at college, we don’t even get Versus so I can see very few Sabres (or any) hockey games. However, I listen to almost all the Sabres games online and the days when I really have to buckle down and study I at least have the online reporter up to check out the score/penalties/shots. I was at school for much of last season, but just talking to people at home and having stood by the Sabres through all those crummy years… That run was worth every loss I’d had to sit through. I can’t begin to describe how absolutely amazing it was- and I’m sure every long time fan of the Sabres can agree with me.
It sometimes bothers me that there are so many ‘bandwagon fans’, but I can’t use that term too lightly since most Buffalonians are at least casual hockey fans everyone pretty much knows how things are going for the Sabres, even if it’s not a hot topic. I know that hockey is still at the heart of this town and their love and support of this team is 100% genuine. They’ve helped to created the atmosphere that you can’t escape anywhere in Buffalo. I can’t drive five minutes without seeing Sabres car flags, stickers, and people in hats, jerseys, and sweatshirts. I love it so much. As I joked during last year’s Eastern Conference finals, Hurricane’s fans gave themselves the name “Caniacs” but around here Sabres fans are just known as Buffalonians.
I, like many other Buffalonians, have that sinking feeling that a big win is never going to happen. I remember in elementary school the Bills runs to the Super bowl. I had nightmares over “No Goal” and “No Goal #2” aka 6-hole. Whenever anyone tries to point out the years of low attendance at the HSBC because of the bankruptcy, I hold my head up because I attended at least seven games that season, no small feat for a high school student who only worked lifeguarding on Saturdays.
This season has been completely different than last year. Oh sure, the Sabres have been playing really well, but after last year it was expected. Last year, each round of the playoffs was just something that we were lucky to have. This year, the feeling around town is that nothing besides the Stanley Cup will do. As I’ve heard some people say “This town could really use a Super bowl or Stanley Cup championship.” Although I would love for the Sabres to win the Stanley Cup above just about anything else, I hope that people aren’t ignoring the ride. I have been trying to enjoy every win, every milestone, every little success of the season. If we win the cup, I’ve have enjoyed the season just that much more, and if we don’t win it all, well then at least it was an amazing ride and I can say I cherished every moment.
I was lucky enough to attend the Sabres final home game of the regular season. I was proud of a crowd that gave a standing ovation for the boys coming out of the locker room and cheered loud and long for Afinogenov’s first shift- and then every time he touched the puck. Vanek was astounding and every time he had the puck, I expected a goal every time he had it. Also, the number of signs for the players and the team hanging on the back walls of the arena plus all the signs people were holding up; it’s astounding. All the years I’ve been going to games I’ve never seen a thing like it. I still have a beef to pick with them over our power play. It had a couple good shifts but my dad and I groaned every time the other team had a penalty because we looked better 5-5 than 5-4. I guess noone’s ever perfect though...
It was about this time last year that I discovered hockeybuzz and it has been a lifesaver since I’ve been away from Buffalo at school (though only a few hours away). I have very few hockey fan friends at school; I’m the hockey nut that people always turn to when they want to know who Crosby or Malkin are (since we’re on the outskirts of Penguin territory). However, this website has allowed me to learn even more about this game and about players and teams beyond the Sabres. I didn’t think I could become an even bigger hockey fan than I was, but I could. If this blog is lucky enough to continue, I have more than enough thoughts and input that I’ll be giving on the Sabres team. Though I can’t say I have any connections or behind the scenes knowledge, I am always up to date on Sabres information and trying to keep a finger on the pulse of the fans in Buffalo.
I already can feel the excitement bubbling up for the playoffs! GO SABRES!