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KALETA RETURNS TO PRACTICE AFTER BEING SNOWED IN SINCE TUESDAY

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

Coming off back-to-back wins, the Buffalo Sabres were supposed to play the New York Rangers on Friday. However, a snowstorm that’s ravaged Western New York forced the NHL to postpone the game. That game has been rescheduled for Feb. 20, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Buffalo's originally scheduled game on Feb. 20 against Ottawa has been moved to Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.

The Sabres will head out Friday night for Washington, D.C. for their regularly scheduled game Saturday night against the Capitals.

“It just goes to show that what’s going on in the outside world, we’re playing a game – it’s our livelihood and all that – but there’s more important things,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. “Your hearts, your thoughts are with the people that are suffering right now and trying to help in any way we can.”

Most of the players either live downtown or north of the city so they weren’t as severely affected as those in the Southtowns. Right wing Patrick Kaleta had been snowed in since Tuesday and was finally able to make it to practice at First Niagara Center on Friday.

Kaleta had to watch the Tuesday night’s win over San Jose from his home in Hamburg, N.Y. as he dealt with feet of snow at his doorstep.

He played his first NHL game in a calendar year on Nov. 13, missing all of that time because of a knee injury sustained last November and broken bones in his face due to a blocked shot in September. He’s been forced to sit out a lot, so he was going a little stir-crazy while forced to wait out the snowstorm.

“I was really, really aggravated. I was talking to Mike [Weber] about the year I had last year with watching as many games as I had to watch and not being able to do anything,” he said. “But there’s nothing I could do and as my neighbor’s kids would say, I was pretty grumpy.”

Sabres coach Ted Nolan was happy to see him back on the ice, but happier to know that he made it to the rink safely.

“He was like a child, locked up in his home and couldn’t go to school for a couple days. It was good,” Nolan said. “He found a way to get here, but the most important thing, kidding aside, was to make sure everything was safe and sound to travel and get here. In a situation like this, I think hockey is secondary.”

Kaleta has gotten messages from his teammates and others in the organization over the past few days as they’ve checked in to see how he was doing.

He’s spent his days shoveling and helping out neighbors who are also trying to remove the snow from their streets and driveways. Knowing that he has the support of his team while dealing while they’ve dealt with this ordeal has meant a lot.

“When your coach and your training staff and your teammates care about you and want you to be safe, when times comes you’ll go the extra mile for them,” Kaleta said. “It’s a great feeling to know you’re cared about as a person and not just a hockey player.”

Kaleta said his neighborhood is still a bit of a mess with all of the snow that’s piled up. As of Friday afternoon, the storm had reportedly claimed the lives of 13 people throughout Western New York.

Many homes are still buried under mountains of snow.

“I have my greatest sympathy for the people in the Southtowns and even the places that were hit up north,” Kaleta said. “We stick together and we’ll work through it.”

He won’t travel with the team but will instead stay in Buffalo to skate and work out. He’s working on getting his conditioning back up and hopes to be ready to go for Buffalo’s home game Wednesday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

With Michal Neuvirth out with a lower-body injury, Jhonas Enroth is slated to start in goal against Washington.

FRIDAY’S PRACTICE
26 Matt Moulson – 28 Zemgus Girgensons – 63 Tyler Ennis
65 Brian Flynn – 17 Torrey Mitchell – 12 Brian Gionta – 36 Patrick Kaleta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers – 19 Cody Hodgson – 21 Drew Stafford
82 Marcus Foligno – 8 Cody McCormick – 80 Chris Stewart

24 Tyson Strachan – 57 Tyler Myers
51 Nikita Zadorov – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber – 41 Andrej Meszaros
61 Andre Benoit

1 Jhonas Enroth
50 Nathan Lieuwen
31 Matt Hackett

Did Not Skate: 4 Josh Gorges (Injured Reserve, lower body), 34 Michal Neuvirth (injured, lower body)

Power Play Units
First Unit
Moulson-Ennis-Stafford
Meszaros-Myers

Second Unit
Hodgson-Girgensons-Gionta
Zadorov-Ristolainen

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