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Roommates Dahlin, Mittelstadt helping each other adjust to life with Sabres

PITTSBURGH -- Casey Mittelstadt and Rasmus Dahlin each have their quirks. Mittelstadt is the messy one of the house, while Dahlin drowns out the sound of the television by playing music all day.

They troll each other on social media, talk trash following games of Fortnite and grab dinner post-practice. Though the Sabres have little free time during this late-fall slog, their two teenage rookies are typically always together away from the rink.

They chose to live together during their first full year in Buffalo, room together on the road and have quickly grown close despite their drastically different backgrounds. Mittelstadt, a 19-year-old center chosen eighth overall by the Sabres in 2017, grew up 30 minutes southwest of Minneapolis, Minn. Dahlin, an 18-year-old defenseman drafted first overall in June, is from Trollhattan, an industrial city in southwestern Sweden.

They first bonded through their love of the game and a shared vision to help bring playoff hockey back to Buffalo. Neither knew much about the city or the teammates with whom they'd be playing when they first moved in together. As a result, they're helping each other through a transition unlike any they had experienced both on and off the ice, while building a camaraderie suitable for a television sitcom.

"We both came in and neither of us really knew anyone," Mittelstadt told The Buffalo News on Monday. "We get enough of each other, but we have a lot of fun. It’s definitely been good. It’s nice to have someone there to help out with the transition."

Dahlin had slightly more experience being away from home since he played two professional seasons for Frolunda HC, a team in the Swedish Hockey League that is based 45 minutes south of Trollhattan. Mittelstadt stayed close to home for college, starring at the University of Minnesota, but he spent one season playing junior hockey for Green Bay of the USHL. He played in only six games for the Sabres late last season.

Both uprooted their lives to join the Sabres for training camp in August, and the transition is ongoing three months later. Mittelstadt, adjusting to playing center in the NHL, has only six points in 20 games, but is starting to make an impact on the forecheck.

Dahlin has proven to be every bit as good as the Sabres expected, posting 10 points and is tied for second on the team with a plus-6 rating. He also is refining his understanding and use of the English language. Having Mittelstadt around has helped.

Dahlin has picked up vocabulary by watching television or movies with his roommate. Mittelstadt also will tell him when he makes a mistake.

"It's helped because we're both new in the league," Dahlin said. "It helps my English just by listening to him when we're hanging out. I'll make mistakes and he helps. If it’s really, really wrong he’ll say, ‘Yeah, you’re wrong.’ "

Mittelstadt said Dahlin was shy when they first moved in together and kept the small talk to a minimum. The conversations have since gown in length. Dahlin will even scold Mittelstadt for being untidy, both at home and on the road.

When Mittelstadt used Instagram to tease Dahlin at the onset of a three-game road trip, Dahlin dished it right back. They have more in common than they expected. Both spend their little free time together watching movies or playing Fortnite, an online-based video game.

"He’s really shy at first, but once you get to know him, he runs his mouth," Mittelstadt joked. "At least he does it to me. Pretty normal guy. Easy going guy. Easy to live with. I’ve played hockey with a lot of Euros -- some of them do really different things compared to Americans. Not in a bad way. That’s just how it is. He’s got a few weird things."

Aside from the constant music and untidiness, both insist the other is fairly normal. There's little free time with the NHL schedule. A league-mandated bye week has made some weeks more hectic than others, including Buffalo's current stretch of six games in nine nights.

Following the shootout win Friday in Winnipeg, the Sabres waited in line for U.S. Customs and didn't arrive at the team hotel in Saint Paul, Minn., until hours later. It's a grind the team's young players have never experienced.

Despite the ongoing adjustments at work and at home, the two teenagers have proven ready for the NHL and they have each other to thank.

"He's helped me feel really comfortable here," Dahlin said. "If I have any questions, I can just ask him. It's been great."

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