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by Alex Beilman / Buffalo Sabres
Nick Tarnasky (Micheline Veluvolu)

Although he played in the KHL last year, AHL and NHL hockey are not foreign to Rochester Americans forward Nick Tarnasky.

“It was a really good experience. From a playing standpoint, [the KHL] was unbelievable. I really enjoyed the whole aspect of it,” said Tarnasky, who signed as a free agent with Buffalo in July. “It’s tighter [on an NHL size rink], for my game, being on that smaller ice helps.”

Before he signed in Russia with Vityaz Chekhov in 2011-2012, the 27-year-old Tarnasky spent parts of five NHL seasons with Tampa Bay, Nashville and Florida, collecting 30 points and 297 penalty minutes in 245 NHL games. The native of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, has established himself as a physical player, who can fill a third or fourth line role who isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates.

“Fighting is part of what I can do. I think guys in my situation can go out and be productive offensively, defensively and killing penalties; not just being a one dimensional player,” said Tarnasky of his skill set. “I think I’m a physical player. My line is about good forechecking, good hitting, and effectively helping the team when we’re being physical and grinding. It’s about playing with that edge that those top two lines can’t play because they play a lot of minutes or play in different roles.”

Tarnasky’s experience should be an asset for a Rochester team that is still growing and had a disappointing end to the playoffs last season, being swept in the first round by Toronto. He takes pride in his leadership role on the team and how he can serve as a veteran presence for the young players.

“A lot of the guys ask me about questions about situations I’ve been in,” explains Tarnasky. “They’re taking my experiences and using them to push their career forward and maybe understanding what they can work on.”

Tarnasky knows what’s expected of him with this young team, and he would like nothing more than to help lead the Amerks deeper into the playoffs.

“For now, we’re focusing on how to make the Rochester Americans a better hockey team. I think we have an opportunity to be a really good team here.”

Tarnasky (Micheline Veluvolu)

Born: November 25, 1984, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta
Last Amateur Club:
Lethbridge (WHL)

How Acquired: Signed by Buffalo as a free agent, July 17, 2012.

CAREER: 2011-12: Played his eighth professional season overseas with Chekhov Vityaz of the KHL • Finished seventh on the team in scoring with 11 points (4+7) in 36 games and ranked fourth with a career-high 173 PIM… 2010-11: Made his return to the Springfield Falcons (AHL), closing out the campaign with 20 points on seven goals and a pro career-high 13 assists in 66 AHL games • His 150 PIM were the second-most among Falcons skaters … 2009-10: Third on the team in PIM with 85, despite playing only 31 games • Fought in four consecutive games (4/3-4/10) • Involved in 12 fights throughout the season • Scored his first goal of the season vs. BOS (2/13) • Played in his first game of the season vs. BOS (12/27) • Assigned to Rochester on 12/15 for a conditioning stint • In five games with the Amerks, he scored three goals, including two in his Rochester debut, and racked up seven PIM • Suffered a broken orbital bone (9/15)… 2008-09: Recorded an NHL career-high five assists • Recorded his first point of the season with an assist vs. CGY (10/23)… 2007-08: Set NHL career highs in games played (80), goals (6) and points (10) • Ranked fourth on team in hits (199) and penalty minutes (78) • Scored two goals at FLA (1/12)… 2006-07: Recorded the first multi-point game (1+1) of his career at CGY (3/10) • Scored the game-deciding goal in a shootout, his first career attempt at WSH (3/1)… Scored his first NHL goal vs. WSH (11/28)… 2007 Playoffs: Played in all six games, averaging 6:13 of ice time per game and recording 10 penalty minutes… 2005-06: Recorded his NHL point (assist) at TOR (11/5) • Made his NHL debut vs. ATL (10/20) • Played in 68 games with Springfield (AHL), posting pro career highs in goals (14) and points (23) • Ranked fourth on team in penalty minutes (100)… 2004-05: Made his pro debut with Springfield and played in all 80 games • Racked up 176 PIM, finishing his rookie campaign fifth on the team in that category… 2003-04: Led Hurricanes in goals and was tied for first in points • Ranked second on team with seven power play goals… 2002-03: Split the season between Kelowna and Lethbridge, playing in a combined 69 games and recording 9 goals and 20 assists… 2001-02: Entered the WHL with Vancouver , appearing in 10 games and scoring one goal • Began season with Drayton Valley (AJHL), skating in 20 games and recording 11 points (7+4) before entering the WHL.

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