Maine Hockey Journal

Slumping Sabres look to Mancari for spark

Portland, ME – It was only a matter of time before the Buffalo Sabres came calling to the Portland Pirates for some help. On Thursday, the Sabres recalled forward Mark Mancari from the Pirates and depending on his play; it could be sometime before he’s seen in a Pirates uniform again.

It shouldn’t have come to anyone’s surprise with the Sabres play as of late versus the play of the Pirates that Buffalo would be looking to infusion some new blood into the lineup.

Going back to Nov 3, when the Sabres had back-to-back shutouts, they’ve struggle to keep the puck out of the net and their record reflects that fact at 1-4-1 over their last six games. The Sabres have allowed 29 goals in six games, giving up an average 4.33 goals per game. On the offensive side, they’ve been respectable scoring an average of 2.68 goals per game, but that’s not good enough for a core group like the Sabres have.

Mancari, who arrived late last night, skated on a line with Dan Paille and Paul Gaustad during practice this morning and was a little awestruck to be in the lineup for the Sabres.

“I’m very excited,” said Mancari. “I’ve been waiting for this for over a year so I’m really pleased.”

It shouldn’t have been unexpected that Mancari would be the first to get the call during this current slump for the Sabres and it certainly was well deserved with his play in Portland so far this season.

Currently ranked second in AHL scoring, he’s put up 25 points (11g, 14a) in 14 games with the Pirates. He’s ranked fifth in the AHL in goals scored, fourth in assists and first in plus/minus with a plus-15 rating.

Not one to accept the credit for the success of the Pirates play, he does admit that he worked extremely hard in the off-season to improve his skating.

“It’s really good to have your own affiliation,” he said. “We have a lot of good players and young players who have stepped it up.”

“As for me to make it here I really had to (focus) on my skating.”

The Sabres will look to turn around their losing way tonight with the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, while the Pirates look to continue their eight-game winning streak, taking on the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI.

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