BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Despite being eliminated from playoff contention with a 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, Sabres fans are encouraged by the team’s performance this year and already have their sights set on next season.

Meaningful spring hockey is something Buffalo Sabres fans haven’t experienced in more than a decade.

“I’ve stuck with them through thick and thin and it feels like they are finally turning a corner and putting the pieces together,” Christopher Kolb of Tonawanda said. “Next year is going to be the year where they take a giant step. I could definitely see those times come back and I am excited for it. I can’t wait.”

The Sabres are making the city buzz with hockey fever as the season comes to a close. Many fans were at the Sabres store Tuesday afternoon gearing up for the final games of the season, which includes one final game at Keybank Center Thursday night. They say this team is one to watch for years to come.

“They’re doing very well with the way they are playing now,” Joseph Dingwall of Buffalo said.

“As a Buffalonian, it’s just the way we are. We’re real hearty people and we just had to wait and our time was going to come,” Nelson Ohleman Jr. of Buffalo added.

“It was a very tough time with the pandemic and how bad the team was a couple years ago, now they are doing excellent,” Joann Dingwall of Buffalo told News 4.

Some fans say this team reminds them of iconic teams from years past, including the 2005-2006 Sabres.

“I think it’s all about being a team and playing well together. And the comradery among the players. It seems like they have real chemistry and that’s really what makes a difference,” John Ptak of Clarence Center said.

Businesses near KeyBank Center say the team’s success means a big boost throughout the season.

“Just a huge influx of people before, during and after the game. It helps us from a sales point of view, but also the city hype. You can really see the excitement from people when they are here,” Jeff Piazza, general manager of Southern Tier, said.

Fans are hopeful and optimistic for the future, wishing the Stanley Cup can be hoisted right here in the 716.

“Everywhere you go all you see is Bills or Sabres paraphernalia. It’s just wonderful to see. Lots of banners and flags flying. People are excited and it’s really good for the city,” Ptak added.

The Sabres next game is in Buffalo on home ice on Thursday against the Ottawa Senators.
Then the team heads back on the road to face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night to finish the regular season.

Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.