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Bill Hoppe


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ROCHESTER – Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s season debut with the Americans started slowly. In the opening 15 minutes of Friday’s 4-3 shootout loss, the Cleveland Monsters sprinkled only three shots on the Buffalo Sabres’ top goalie prospect. “It’s tough for a goalie to get into it,” coach Chris Taylor said of Luukkonen, who started his season with the Cincinnati Cyclones aft…

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If Buffalo Sabres prospect Jacob Bryson had been born a decade or two earlier, the chances of him making pro hockey as an undersized defenseman would’ve been slim. The Rochester Americans list Bryson at just 5-foot-9, making him one of the American Hockey League’s smallest defensemen. But the game has changed dramatically. When the clutch-and-grab era ended, teams st…

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ROCHESTER – Having recorded four shutouts in his last 10 starts, Andrew Hammond might be the American Hockey League’s best goalie right now. Hammond, 31, has compiled a 7-2-1 record with a 1.40 goals-against and a .947 save percentage since Nov. 1 with the Americans. “As far as consistency in my game, I think it’s about as good as I ever felt,” Hammond said recently.…

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ROCHESTER – At first, Taylor Leier couldn’t comprehend what had happened to his right shoulder. In the immediate aftermath of his freak training accident, Leier said he was in “complete shock.” Later on, Leier, 25, said he would wake up during the night and wonder if he was dreaming about the injury. “Like, there’s no way my shoulder’s actually hurt,” he would wou…

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ROCHESTER – Andrew Oglevie thought nothing of that first hit he took three months ago. The Buffalo Sabres' prospect popped up and continued his shift in the Prospects Challenge opener. But when he returned to the bench that night, a teammate asked the question on everyone’s mind. “Someone was like, ‘You all right, Ogs?’ And I’m like, ‘Why wouldn’t I be?’ ” Oglevie sa…

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ROCHESTER – Before winger Victor Olofsson emerged as one of the Buffalo Sabres’ top prospects, their 2014 draft ranked among the worst in franchise history. Other than Olofsson, a rare seventh-round gem, only winger Sam Reinhart, the second overall pick, has paid dividends. In the last five years, the Sabres have traded or let go of six other selections. None of them…

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ROCHESTER – In his first three pro seasons, Americans defenseman John Gilmour played for three awful Hartford Wolf Pack teams, never coming close to the playoffs. In Gilmour’s rookie year, the New York Rangers’ affiliate finished last in the 31-team American Hockey League, winning just 24 games. Last season, the Wolf Pack won 29 games. That’s why Gilmour, who cleared…

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ROCHESTER – In barely a month, Buffalo Sabres prospect Brett Murray has morphed from a training camp invitee into one of the Americans’ regular wingers. Murray has roared up the depth chart, earning action on a scoring line and the power play. In nine games, he has scored two goals and seven points. “What you want a young guy to do is punch a hole in the lineup, and …

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ROCHESTER – With Friday’s game tied at 2 in the third period, Rochester Americans winger Tage Thompson grabbed a pass from Scott Wilson at center ice and zoomed past a helpless defender into the Binghamton Devils zone. “I had a couple of good chances earlier in the game from shooting and felt one was bound to go in if I kept testing him,” the Buffalo Sabres prospect sai…

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ROCHESTER – When Sean Malone’s injury-plagued, career-worst season ended in April, the West Seneca native needed a mental break from hockey. So for about a month, Malone, a Rochester Americans forward, said he got away from the sport and “talked to a lot of people.” “I was able to mentally step away from everything, get my mind right,” Malone said. These days, Mal…

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ROCHESTER – Sometimes Matt Moulson hears the words and tears fill his eyes. When the former Buffalo Sabres winger left his home in Connecticut last month to begin his 14th, and possibly final pro season, his wife and two children stayed home. After spending nearly two seasons living in Ontario, Calif., a city about 45 minutes east of Los Angeles, Moulson and his wife…

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ROCHESTER – Sabres prospect Rasmus Asplund practiced with the Rochester Americans on Monday after an upper-body injury sidelined him one game. “He was feeling good, so we’re looking forward to having him back,” interim Amerks coach Gord Dineen said. Asplund, 21, was killing a penalty and crouched down when the puck hit him about 2:15 into Friday’s 4-3 shootout loss t…

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ROCHESTER -- Sabres prospect Rasmus Asplund suffered an upper body injury on a blocked shot in the opening minutes of Friday night for the Rochester Americans. Asplund, 21, was killing a penalty and crouched down when the puck hit him about 2:15 into the game. He quickly skated off and did not return. Interim Americans coach Gord Dineen said Asplund had X-rays, but h…

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Buffalo Sabres prospect Tage Thompson has roared out of the gate for the Rochester Americans, scoring two goals and five points in the first four games. After registering two assists in regulation Sunday afternoon in Hartford, Thompson, 21, scored the shootout’s only goal to clinch a 3-2 win. Interim coach Gord Dineen attributes Thompson’s hot to start to playing a “…

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ROCHESTER – Forget about Rasmus Asplund’s late-season scoring binge or that he centered one of the American Hockey League’s top lines as a rookie. Asplund’s maturity has impressed Americans general manager Randy Sexton more than anything else. “He’s still very young but he’s extremely mature," Sexton said of the Sabres prospect. "He’s very focused, he’s very coachabl…