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SPECIAL GIFT FOR GERBE

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Nathan Gerbe (Photo: Getty Images)
Nathan Gerbe gave his parents the best anniversary gift they ever could have hoped for Friday night.


The Buffalo Sabres rookie called his folks to let them know he had made the big time. Twenty-four hours later, the 21-year-old was playing in the National Hockey League, helping his team earn a 4-3 win at Tampa Bay.

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Gerbe didn't score, but it was a solid debut, as he was a plus-2 and had four shots on goal in 15:09 of ice time.

"They've always supported me my whole life, and I knew they would really like that, especially since it was their anniversary," Gerbe told The Buffalo News before Saturday's victory. "It was definitely a good present for them, and they were really excited."

Gerbe's promotion was well-deserved, as he was constantly finding himself on the scoresheet in the American Hockey League. In 21 games with the Portland Pirates, Gerbe had 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists), which was tops among AHL rookies.

Judging by what he accomplished with Boston College last season, one had to believe it wouldn't be long before Gerbe found himself in the NHL. In 43 games with the Eagles, he had 68 points and was named the USA Hockey's national college player of the year.

"When you're playing with good players, the opportunities come. You just have to take advantage of it," Gerbe told NHL.com recently. "Last year was a big step for me. I learned more about myself, what kind of player I have to be. I have to be a high-energy, skill player who brings it at both ends of the rink. Some nights you are just not feeling it, but you have to figure it out."

Will the 5-foot-5 Gerbe stick in Buffalo? Time will tell. But should he ever return to Portland, he'll have a phenomenal story to share. As he arrived on the ice in Tampa for Saturday's morning skate, his teammates began tapping their sticks. It was a welcoming the rookie center never will forget.

"It's something I'm going to really remember and take it all in when I step on that ice," Gerbe told The Buffalo News. "It's something I really want to remember for the rest of my life, playing my first NHL game. I've been looking forward to this dream since I was 10 years old, so finally it comes through, and I'm just pretty happy to be here."
   
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