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Kerry Fraser’s Math – 2-1 > 2-2 = 5 on 3. Sabres lose in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA… As far as losses go, this one was as hard as ever to swallow. And the big assist came courtesy of referee Kerry Fraser, now making his farewell tour across the NHL. Known for making boneheaded calls throughout his career, this one stands right up there with the best of them.

It was late in the second period at General Motors Place, and the Sabres are trailing the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. A penalty is called on the Sabres, and they would have to skate shorthanded the rest of the period.

The Sabres came rushing down the ice, and a center pass went off of Vancouver defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and by Roberto Luongo, and then the net came off the moorings. The puck was clearly in the net. Game tied 2-2.

And there was Fraser, waving off the goal.

The video review clearly showed that there was no kicking motion by Paul Gaustad. Even the national broadcasters on TSN were disagreeing with the call.

And what was the call? Any goal that may have happened was waved off because Paul Gaustad was called for cross checking.

Whaaaaattt???

The Sabres bench was irate. Up in the pressbox, the Sabres assistant coaches were apoplectic. How could they wave off a goal, go to a lengthy video review, and then deem the goal not count because of a prior penalty?

Brad Lukowich scored the game winning goal just past the five minute mark in the thrid period, after Thomas Vanek tied it all up on a power play goal early in the third. That would be all that Vancouver would need and the Sabres went down to their 4th straight loss on the extended road trip.

The players were doing their best to shake off the blown call as they rested in the locker room between the second and third periods. “You’re going to get bad calls from time to time,” explained Jason Pominville. “We were two men short and down a goal, and it was just us saying ‘time to bear down and kill this penalty.’ We knew if we could get out of this jam we would have an excellent chance to tie things up. We did so, but then a miscue cost us and it cost us big.”

Adam Mair, who earned the game’s second star, was also not saying much about Fraser’s call. “No need to talk about it now. What happened, happened. The bottom line is we had our opportunities to put this one away and we could not. Now we have to get back to Buffalo, get our rest, our nutrition and our time bearings back and we have a big test Wednesday against New Jersey. No time like now to get back on the winning track.”

A somber Coach Lindy Ruff was doing his best to hide his disgust with the game changing call. “They said Gaustad cross checked one of their players, said Ruff in almost a whisper. “I just felt it was more incidental contact. If you’re gonna call that, you better call 75 more cross checks in front of the net.” Then he added. “It is what it is. We battled hard but we made enough big mistakes to lose the game.”

The Sabres once invincible hold on first place in the Northeast looks a bit more tenuous. The Ottawa Senators are red hot and have pulled to within five points of the leading Sabres as of games played Tuesday. The Sens come to town next Wednesday. By then much could be on the line.

Tyler Myers practices on the ice at General Motors Place

TYLER MYERS RETURNS TO THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

Commanding a lot of attention among the Vancouver media was Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers. As a junior, he played for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League and was also a star for the 2008 Canadian team in the World Juniors. “Yeah it’s nice coming back to this part of the world again. I came here to watch this team (the Canucks) when I played here so I know this place very well,” said Myers. Asked if he misses the bus, Myers replied, “Hell no. But Kelowna had a pretty nice bus.”

Myers answered questions relating to his growth as a player, his extended playing time on the NHL and his desire to put weight on as he continues to grow. “Just the opportunities they’re giving me in key situations boosts my confidence and forces me to come prepared. I still want to keep playing in those situations as best I can. It always seems that I’m in game mode when I come to the rink I hope that I can show that I can keep handling it.”

As for all the traveling…”It’s cool to go to all these different cities. I’ve never been to Phoenix. It was raining the whole time in Southern California. But I’ve really enjoyed this first extended trip.”

Myers said he’s taking all the media attention in stride. “I’m sort of getting used to it by now. Even the World Juniors it was crazy there. But dealing with the media is something I am getting used to and enjoying.”