Maine Hockey Journal

Mancari working for the future

Portland, ME – Mark Mancari is a man on a mission this season and nothing will get in his way from trying to reach the goal he set in the off-season.

To wear the blue and gold of the Buffalo Sabres, and if he keeps playing the way he has over the early part of the season, Mancari may not be long from finally reaching his goal. In the meantime, he’s more than happy to wear the black and red of the Portland Pirates.

Mancari, in his fourth professional season, was without a contract. He knew the Sabres owned his rights and could qualify him, but he didn’t know where he’d be playing come October. Still, he took the advice from Sabres GM Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff and made several important strides in reaching his ultimate goal, working on his skate to become a better overall player.

“The summer was big for me because I went in with no contract,” said Mancari. “My three years were up and I needed to do what I could to get a contract. All summer I worked on my weight and my skating or on whatever I had to do or whatever I was told to do to make myself better.”

“It wasn’t until later in the summer when I signed my one-year deal (with Buffalo) and I went into camp with my number one goal of making the team, whether it was to go up and down the ice and hit guys, play defensively or score goals.”

“I think going into the camp being focused on being a two-way forward was key for me this year.”

Nothing short of impressive early on, Mancari has followed through on his promise to be a better two-way forward, leading the AHL in plus/minus with a plus-13 rating through 11 games with the Pirates. He’s also leading the AHL in scoring with 21 points (9g, 11a).

He’s already earned the honor of being named the AHL’s Player of the Week.

While Mancari will take credit for the work he’s done in the off-season, he won’t accept all the credit for his success during the season, giving much of it to his linemates, Tim Kennedy, Mathieu Darche and Nathan Gerbe.

“It makes a world of a difference when you’ve got (Darche) who has been around the league for a while and great leader,” Mancari said. “He’s played in the NHL and makes playing the game a lot easier and better when you have players like that and with players like Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy. They are phenomenal young players. They are in their season and they are already dominating, coming in, playing hard, and doing what ever it takes to win.”

Mancari won’t look beyond this season, he still believes that he has a chance to make the Sabres roster and as long as he keeps doing his work and fulfilling his end of the bargain, he knows he’ll make the NHL – or at least have a fair shot.

“Every one has a different development period,” he said. “They are in the minors for a different period of time and my goal was to make it this year. I’m not there yet, but I’m not going to be negative about it. I’m here to work hard and do what I can to make that next step.”

Next stop, Buffalo….

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