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Welcome to Hockeytown, USA

I know what you must be thinking. A Sabres column? Don't we hear enough about the Sabres? I know it's difficult to avoid hockey news around here but in a city that cares as deeply about its hockey as Buffalo does, I'm of the opinion that we can never hear enough about the Sabres. We love our boys whether they win or lose. Though we like it when they win.

On Saturday night, I scalped a couple of tickets and went to my first hockey game. I could not have been more thrilled about it. The air inside HSBC arena was just as exhilarating as I always imagined it, even way up in the nosebleed section. I can't say I thought the team skated their best against the Florida Panthers; certainly not even as well as they skated against the Boston Bruins the previous night, even with the 4-3 OT loss. Our defense has been weak this season and both our goalies have been a bit off their game, with Ryan Miller and Jocelyn Thibault both giving up a couple sloppy goals. The signing of unrestricted free agent Nolan Pratt was exciting news, but we barely even got to see him play on Saturday due to a minor groin injury, so I'll reserve judgment on our new defenseman for now.

However, I will say that Saturday night probably was the best fighting I've seen this season. Adam Mair and Steve Montador broke up an otherwise fairly uninteresting first period with a few good punches. More excitement broke out midway through the third when our very own Paul "Goose" Gaustad landed more than a couple on Greg Campbell. They both got the five-minute major for fighting but Goose had a definite upper hand in that particular brawl. I'll have to keep waiting if I want a goalie fight, though.

In short, I don't think this is the end of the world for Buffalo. After last year's record, the team just isn't used to losing, and the constant stream of injuries isn't helping either. Still, if the boys can take the energy they're using to kick and punch the other team and use it against the puck on the ice, I feel confident they can turn this all around. Best of luck to the team (and our new November cap'n, Toni Lydman) as they take on a heavy current of opponents this week!

Hannah Hampton is a senior at Niagara Falls High School.

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