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Despite down year in Rochester, Kaleta holding on to his NHL dream

Patrick Kaleta’s year in Rochester didn’t go well. He says the struggles have made him want to get back to the NHL that much more.

Kaleta, signed to a minor-league contract after failing to make the Sabres out of training camp, played just 26 games for the Amerks because of injuries and an overflow of veterans. He recorded one goal, two assists, 16 shots and 33 penalty minutes in the American Hockey League.

“When I was in there, I did what I needed to do,” Kaleta told Rochester media Monday as the Amerks cleaned out their lockers and looked toward the offseason. “It’s just going to be focusing on getting back to the NHL. I’m pretty hungry. I have a chip on my shoulder, and I really think I can help out hopefully with the Sabres the younger group of guys with creating some space and knowing they have a little bit of backup.

“I’m overly hungry, and people have no idea how bad I want to get back to where I want to be.”

Kaleta, who played parts of nine seasons with the Sabres, will turn 30 in June. Neither his age nor the toll his body has taken is making him look toward retirement.

“I want to play for the Sabres, and I want to be in the Sabres’ organization,” Kaleta said. “Whether that happens or not, like I said, I’m just going to control what I can. I know that I can go in and have a big summer. Even watching playoff hockey, it’s pretty physical and it’s exciting. I caught a game the other day, and the adrenaline started coursing through my blood, so I’m not ready to call it quits yet.”

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