Inside the Sabres: Road games are picture perfect for 'Displaced' fans - The Buffalo News

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Inside the Sabres: Road games are picture perfect for 'Displaced' fans

As a native of Trumbull, Conn., it was a given that James Misercola would gravitate toward hometown legend Chris Drury. Throw in the fact that Misercola's father is from Amherst, and he was destined to be a Sabres fan.

"For better or worse," Misercola said.

The joy and angst felt by the 20-year-old is shared with countless others across the country. He has provided them with an outlet to celebrate and commiserate whenever the hockey team hits the road.

Misercola is the creator of "Displaced Sabres Fans," which you can find on Twitter (@DisplacedSabres) and Facebook (Facebook.com/DisplacedSabresFans). He uses the sites to bring out-of-town or traveling Sabres fans together in visiting arenas and immortalizes the moment with a group photo.

"When I first started it, I wasn't really sure how big it would get," Misercola said. "I knew there were a lot of Buffalo fans across the country, but it's been so cool to see them all over the U.S. and Canada, too."

Misercola got his first taste of the fans' passion in January 2012. He begged his dad, Mark, to take him to see the Sabres play the New York Islanders in Nassau Coliseum. They walked toward the arena and instantly realized they wouldn't be the only people rooting for Buffalo in the Isles' rink.

"I was just amazed at the amount of Sabres fans that were there," Misercola said. "They were probably all displaced. I got home after the game and I started a 'Displaced Buffalo Sabres Fans' Facebook page. A couple years later I started a Twitter, and it's just built on from there."

Both accounts are nearing 3,000 followers. Games and daily happenings are discussed, but the sites' highlight is the group photo taken during every road game.

Misercola sends out messages during the game directing fans to a certain location during the second intermission. Once they gather in their Jack Eichel jerseys, Ryan Miller T-shirts and One Buffalo hoodies, a picture is taken to commemorate the smiles and hugs.

"The first group photo we ever took was the first Sabres game in Brooklyn," Misercola said. "It was Nov. 1, 2015, and I just started that as a spur-of-the-moment thing. That grew, and we started doing other places. Then the people started volunteering to take it. It's cool."

Misercola is a sophomore at Medaille College, so he's not at many of the road games. Other fans reach out to say they're going, and Misercola enlists them to take the pictures.

They're usually in charge of finding the ideal arena location, too.

"I'll message someone who is local to that market, and they'll get to the arena early or they've been to other games and they'll send a picture to me of a good spot," said Misercola, who then spreads the info. "The best part about it is I don't have to be at games to take these pictures. I just coordinate through social media. I have someone or multiple people just take the picture there. It's great."

The Sabres, their broadcasters and Buffalo News reporters typically retweet the location info, helping fans gather. More than 80 showed up for the picture Tuesday night in Las Vegas. There were about 50 for last weekend's games in Los Angeles and Anaheim.

It's clear the smiles are genuine.

"It's just the camaraderie that the displaced fans feel when they see other fans from Buffalo who root for the same team," Misercola said. "It's like a bond that they share. It's very cool to see other displaced fans when you're not in Buffalo.

"One of the coolest things for me is when I go to Brooklyn and I meet people that I've just interacted with online. Meeting them in person is pretty cool."

Misercola's fandom expands to the Bills. He's the chapter president of a Bills Backers organization in Connecticut, and he runs displaced Bills fans sites on Twitter and Facebook. Those are similar to his Sabres sites, minus the group pictures.

"There's so many Bills fans that go to stadiums that there's not enough room, and it's harder to coordinate," Misercola said.

For now, his coordinating efforts are an enjoyable hobby. But he's majoring in Sports Management at Medaille with hopes of one day landing a job with the teams. He'll be able to assemble a photo-filled résumé.

"Hopefully," Misercola said, "I can grow this even more."

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