Sabres Begin Quest to Repeat - 9/21/2002 9:45:11 PM

After his team won the championship for the second time in three seasons, Sabre captian Chris McMaster had a few things on his mind going into Friday's draft. "In the draft following our first championship, I lost nearly everybody from our winning team," said McMaster prior to the draft, "I'm not going to make that mistake again." McMaster followed through with that promise, retaining five of the seven available Sabres from the previous season. Only Jamie Houghton and Jason Fitzgerald were lost to other teams. Playoff hero Kathleen MacDonald retired at the pinacle of her career, as did Peter Rowe, who accepted an offer from a Newfoundland team after never losing a game in his remarkable two-season FHL career. Also retiring from the Sabres was underrated defenseman Neil Melanson, who left after only one season in the league. Melanson, a high school friend of McMaster's, officially left due to scheduling conflicts -- but insiders suggest that it was more likely a salary issue. McMaster will look to fill those voids with league veterans David Watson, Spiro Bokolas and Damian Ho. Returning to defend the Sabres' crown will be Dennis Drapeau, Dan Culligan, Dave MacKenzie, Mike Sullivan, and Chad Griffin. The Sabres will have two rookies in the lineup in 2002B: Owen Barnhill and Adam Pettigrew. McMaster revealed that Pettigrew will be starting the season in goal for the Sabres, while McMaster nurses a broken collarbone and separated shoulder as a result of an off-season touch football incident.

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