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World Cup notebook: O'Reilly thrilled to get the call

TORONTO -- Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly said Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong had warned him a few days ago to have his phone turned on in case a need arose for the World Cup. It happened this week when Tyler Seguin's ankle simply didn't hold up to the rigors of practices and exhibition games.

O'Reilly was added to Team Canada Tuesday night and played in its 3-2 overtime win over Russia in Pittsburgh. He played 13:06 in the game, including 4:27 of penalty killing time.

"I was at home getting ready for dinner and got the call," O'Reilly said. "Obviously it was great. It was a team I wanted to be on from the beginning. You hate it to be from somebody's misfortune but to be here wearing that sweater and having a job to do, it's awesome.

"You look at Canada and the depth of players in there, I just kind of hoped I'd make it for this event," said O'Reilly, who has won gold for the Canadians in the last two World Championships. "Once I saw I didn't, I wasn't surprised but I still knew I needed to be ready if something happened. I know I'm versatile and I carry a style of play they could use by filling any role."


O'Reilly said he was impressed by new Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, whom he went against Wednesday in Pittsburgh during the Canada-Russia game.

"I watched him last night even closer than I might have," O'Reilly said. "That's a good pickup for us, a left 'D' who's tough on the wall. He really adds to our back end. He skates, he moves, he's tough to play against. He does so many things well, it's huge."

"He's a good player. I watched him too," a smiling Kulikov said of O'Reilly. "Now we're on the same so it's good."

Kulikov joked that he was thrilled to be in Buffalo in July when he secured his housing for the season and didn't have to deal with the city's harsh winter weather he encountered during the hockey season.

"The city looked nice, definitely," he said. "It's very different from the Buffalo I'm used to seeing. That whole area by the arena and water is really nice with concerts and people walking around. It was great."


Former Sabres Thomas Vanek and Christian Ehrhoff are on the roster for  Team Europe, the amalgamation of players from eight countries that will open the tournament Saturday afternoon against Team USA.

Ehrhoff, currently an unsigned free agent, said national rivalry has been easily set aside for this event.

"It's more when we play soccer before the game that it comes out a little bit," Ehrhoff said. "I like the way it's set up. Another nation by itself may not have been as good and now there's another competitive team. I thought it was a great idea. It wasn't tough to find each other because you've played with a lot of guys in the NHL before."

"It's coming together very easily because we know each other from other places," said Vanek, who signed a one-year deal over the summer to play in Detroit after being bought out in Minnesota. "The only guy I didn't know was (Edmonton's) Leon Draisaitl because he's young. It didn't take long at all for our team to bond and know where we're going."

The ex-Sabres connections in the tourney also include Miroslav Satan (Team Europe general manager) and Teppo Numminen (Team Finland assistant coach).


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