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Sabres Notebook: Bailey call-up delays AHL suspension

Justin Bailey was a little surprised.

He had never been suspended before, so when he got the phone call from Rochester Americans coach Chris Taylor, he was taken aback a little bit. But when he watched the video, he saw he indeed did hit Syracuse Crunch defenseman Reid McNeill too high in Sunday's game in BlueCross Arena.

Bailey was suspended for one game by the American Hockey League for an illegal hit to the head.

But that suspension will have to wait. Bailey was recalled by the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. If and when he returns to Rochester this season, he will have to serve the one-game suspension before playing. Unlike the NHL, there is no appeals process for player suspensions in the AHL.

Bailey offered his vantage point after the Sabres practiced in HarborCenter Wednesday in advance of the Toronto Maple Leafs coming to town for a 7 p.m. game Thursday.

"I think there's a lot of emotions down in Rochester," Bailey said. "That's a team that we can see ourselves potentially playing in the playoffs. ... Obviously my intent was not to hit him like that at all. I don't wish that on anybody. I think it was just a quick play. I was in desperation mode with a guy in front of the net."

The Amerks were up, 4-2, in the game before Syracuse came back to tie it. Rochester eventually won the game in a shootout.

Sabres recall Justin Bailey

Sabres coach Phil Housley is glad to have Bailey back with the Sabres. The Buffalo native in his third pro season scored the only goal for the Sabres in their last game, a 2-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in a shootout.

"We want him to continue to grow and develop as a player," Housley said. "I thought he brought a lot of speed and physicality to his last game. Obviously it helps when you score and you feel good about yourself contributing, but I'd like to continue to see (physicality) from him."


While Jack Eichel will be out of the Sabres lineup Thursday against Toronto, the Leafs could still be without Auston Matthews.

Matthews suffered a shoulder injury during a game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 22. Tuesday was his second-straight full practice, albeit with a red sweater to indicate no contact. He was reportedly on the ice, again in red, Wednesday for an optional morning skate before the Leafs hosted the Dallas Stars.

"I'm feeling fine. Felt better every day," Matthews told Toronto media on Tuesday. "It's nice to get on the ice with the guys and take reps and be [involved] rather than just skating by yourself, so you can get your timing and stuff back, which is a big key in returning play."

According to a story from TSN, Leafs coach Mike Babcock said that Matthews won't play until after Wednesday's game against Dallas and noted that a player needs at least one full practice at regular speed before he can return. That would seem to rule out Matthews for Thursday against the Sabres.


Linus Ullmark took the ice Wednesday for practice, but after a pre-practice session for the three goaltenders, left the ice.

Sabres recall Ullmark, now carrying three goalies

"He had a personal matter, a good personal matter, so we'll see where he is tomorrow," Sabres coach Phil Housley said after practice.

Ullmark and his wife, Moa, were expecting the birth of their first child. She was due in March.

Coming soon ❤️ #Ullmarkyourcalendar

A post shared by Linus Ullmark (@lullmark) on


Meanwhile, the decision of the Sabres to bring up Ullmark created an opportunity for goalie Paul Berrafato.

Berrafato, a Williamsville native who just finished a four-year goaltending career at Holy Cross, has signed with the Sabres' ECHL affiliate in Cincinnati. The Cyclones had an opening after the Sabres decided Ullmark belonged in Buffalo for the rest of the year.

The NHL club recalled Ullmark from Rochester on Tuesday, prompting the Amerks to recall goalie Jonas Johansson from Cincy. The Cyclones needed someone to share the net with Jason Kasdorf, and Berrafato fits the bill.

Atlantic Hockey named Berrafato as its First Team goalie this season. The 24-year-old played every minute for the Crusaders, finishing 13-16-7 with a .919 save percentage. He set the Holy Cross single-season shutout record with five.

Berrafato, who played for the Buffalo Junior Sabres in 2009-10, also set the Holy Cross career shutout mark with 11. He played in 114 games during his four seasons with the Crusaders, going 46-47-19.

Williamsville's Berrafato joins Sabres' ECHL affiliate


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