On Wednesday night, Linus Ullmark was in Utica. He made 31 saves for the Rochester Americans, but the team ended up on the short end of a 2-1 overtime loss to the Comets.
Thursday morning, Ullmark found himself in Buffalo, practicing with the Sabres in HaborCenter. The official word from the team was that starting goaltender Robin Lehner was given a "maintenance day" and the Sabres wanted two goalies at practice. So up came Ullmark to join Chad Johnson. Just for the day. Just for practice.
And as usual, the 24-year-old was all smiles and jokes, offering a side of life lessons with Linus for good measure.
"The show is what you dream of so every opportunity I get to show how I’m doing down there is great fun," Ullmark said after Thursday's practice.
What has Ullmark been showing in Rochester? He's 6-0-2 in his last eight appearances.
A year after leading the AHL in saves, games and minutes played, he has picked up where he left off. He won a career-best five straight from Nov. 1 to Nov. 17. He currently leads the AHL in saves (444) and is tied third in wins with nine while his .919 save percentage ranks 14th
But Ullmark insists the personal success is the result of a team effort.
"I wouldn't say what's working well for me, I would say how it works for the team," Ullmark said. "You know personal success comes when the team is having success. So if the team's doing good, I'm doing good."
And the team is doing pretty good. The Amerks entered Thursday tied for third in the Eastern Conference with 26 points (11 wins, five losses, three overtime losses and one shootout loss). And the winning has created a better environment for players to grow.
"I (stinks) if you lose every game, don't you agree?" Ullmark said. "That's just how it is. If you win, you don't really care about what's really going on with your game or something. It's easier to let it go whenever you hit a slump or something like that personally. It's when you start getting all those losses in a row that you start thinking about what I'm doing wrong. You might not be doing anything wrong it's just the puck is passed this way and goes into the net."
So what is it exactly that Ullmark is doing right? He considers this a vague question and offers a vague answer, although one that's offered with the bits of wit and wisdom that have become a hallmark of the goaltender.
"I've had this question a lot of times during this season. I thought that people might know the answer by now," Ullmark said. "I’m just going to say once again, it's personal level. It's about growing as person. You grow as an athlete. And you can't take any days off. You can't really take any days off as a person. You can't go out there and be a moron ... It doesn't work like that. Just be yourself. I’m a happy guy. I like being a happy guy so why shouldn't I be happy guy at all times? Same thing being on the ice. I'm a happy guy, so why not be happy on the ice."
Matt Tennyson looks ready for game action. But the Buffalo Sabres want the defenseman to get his timing back with some time down in Rochester.
Before he can play for the American Hockey League affiliate, he has to clear waivers.
And Sabres coach Phil Housley sure hopes he does.
"Well hopefully he does clear because I thought Matt brought a lot to the table," Housley said Thursday afternoon after the team practice in HarborCenter. "He had a really good, solid camp. He was really consistent with his play when he was in the lineup and then he got hurt and unfortunately we've got numbers coming back at us. On a personal note I'd like to see him get through, get back his timing, and get some games in."
Tennyson has been on the injured reserve since Nov. 7 missing 11 games with a foot injury. He was an everyday defenseman in the lineup, twice skating more than 20 minutes in a game.
The Sabres have an abundance of defensemen, nine total participating in Thursday's practice, as players start to return from injury. Zach Bogosian continues to inch forward to playing his first game of the season after suffering a lower body injury in the last game of the preseason.
Two Western New York natives have earned assignments to officiate at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Dina Allen (North Tonawanda) will be a referee for the women's tournament while Fraser McIntyre (Amherst) will be a linesman in the men's tournament.
There were seven Americans selected for the 47 on-ice positions at the Olympics. The referees and linesmen come from 13 countries.
Fans will have a chance to skate on the outdoor rink at New Era Field. But it will cost you.
Organizers of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship announced two sessions of open skating for fans, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 27, and from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 28.
The cost is $100 and includes a 300 level ticket to the United States vs. Canada outdoor game scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, at New Era Field in Orchard Park.
Any fan who has already purchased a ticket and would like to also experience the skate can contact the Bills ticket office and they will make an accommodation.
Skaters will enter the stadium through Gate 1 and head toward section 122/123 for field and ice access. There will be a warming station in New Era Field's east end zone tunnel, and fans can purchase concessions at the Miller Lite Brew Pub. Participants must bring their own skates, and helmets are required for anyone under the age of 12.
The offer is first open to Bills seaso- ticket members, Sabres season ticket holders, and My One Buffalo members starting Thursday. Remaining slots are open to the general public beginning at 10 a.m. Dec. 1.