Linus Ullmark is going to the American Hockey League All-Star Game. The goaltender thinks he should have way more company.
Ullmark and left wing C.J. Smith will represent Rochester at the midseason gala later this month. Both have earned their way, but so have others on the impressive Amerks club that has started 22-8-6.
"We deserve a lot more people going to the All-Stars, not just me and C.J.," Ullmark said Monday in KeyBank Center. "That's just how I feel. We have an All-Star team, and that's how fortunate we've been."
The Amerks are third overall in the AHL thanks to balanced scoring, quality defense and impressive goaltending. Ullmark is tied for first with 17 victories in 26 appearances and ranks fourth with a .928 save percentage.
"I've been there two years with a losing record, and this year we've been on fire," said Ullmark, who practiced with Buffalo because Robin Lehner is day to day after taking a shot off his neck Sunday. "The boys have been playing out of their minds. It's a great group of guys. There's a lot of fun going into practice every day and coming to the rink.
"Most of that is because of what kind of personnel we've got on the team and the management behind it."
Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill and Amerks GM Randy Sexton were determined to build a winner in Rochester. While Smith leads the Amerks with 31 points off 11 goals and 20 assists, the rookie is surrounded by AHL veterans Kevin Porter, Sahir Gill, Kyle Criscuolo, Seth Griffith and Zach Redmond.
Ullmark will be thinking of them when he heads to the All-Star Game on Jan. 28-29 in Utica.
"I have a great team in front of me, first of all," Ullmark said. "If I play good and we lose, you might not go there."
The 24-year-old goaltender has embraced his role as a workhorse in the crease. He led the AHL with 55 appearances last season. This year, he ranks second in minutes played and saves.
He's building an impressive résumé that should land him in Buffalo next season.
"We're in the minors for a reason, and we're there to develop our games and take it slow, bide our time until we're ready to play with the big boys," Ullmark said. "I have the same mindset going out there every day: making saves, stopping the puck. That's what I do for a living, and I'm going to keep on doing it."
Story topics: Linus Ullmark