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Youngest Foligno carries on NHL family tradition

What’s in a name? If that name is Foligno, then it seems it carries a predisposition to play in the NHL.
Marcus Foligno was recently drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the fourth round — 104th overall — at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

What’s in a name?

If that name is Foligno, then it seems it carries a predisposition to play in the NHL.

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft, held June 26-27 in Montreal, saw Marcus Foligno’s name added to the roster of the Buffalo Sabres, following in the footsteps of father Mike, who played 15 seasons in the NHL, and brother Nick, who’s been with the Ottawa Senators for the past two seasons.

After hearing his name called out in the fourth round of the draft, Marcus admitted he couldn’t have written the script better himself.

“It was one of my favourite teams growing up. I’d choose Buffalo over anyone else, but the NHL is the NHL, and being picked by Buffalo was a bonus.”

In fact, signing on with the Sabres will be a return to his hometown. Marcus spent the first years of his life in the city, as his father finished a 10-year stretch playing for the Buffalo team.

“Knowing what my dad did in Buffalo and knowing I could do something there as well is pretty exciting for me and my family,” Marcus said.

The youngest of the Foligno men, 18-year-old Marcus has size on his side, standing at 6-2 and weighing 212 pounds. The left-winger made a name for himself as a power forward in his two-year career with the Sudbury Wolves, cashing in 13 goals and 20 assists in the most recent OHL season. He also spent 105 minutes in the penalty box.

Mike, who is also the head coach and general manager of the Sudbury Wolves, said it was his son’s physical play and competitive spirit that made him stand out on the ice this year. “Everybody knows he’s a physical player,” the coach said. “He’s the type of guy who wants to win, he cares about his teammates, and he knows the physical game is his strength.”

Marcus said he will be bringing his energy and strong work ethic to the Sabres organization.

“Knowing you have your teammates looking at you to make something happen, to just spark them up and give the energy back to the team,” he said.

“There’s nothing better than trying to put up points in the NHL and it’s one thing I’m capable of. I just need to keep working hard as the off-season goes on ... to develop into an NHL player.”

Marcus said his goal for the remainder of the off-season is to continue getting bigger and stronger.

“This is a player that has worked very hard to accomplish this first step of making it to the NHL, and he’s paid the price both on and off the ice,” the Wolves’ head coach said. “I think Marcus is really motivated right now to accomplish the dream of playing in the NHL.”

With both his father and brother already fixtures in the NHL, Marcus admitted there was bit of pressure to “complete the family tradition.”

“There was some pressure, but at the same time, I had those guys to rely on if I had a question or anything like that. Having Nick playing for Ottawa right now, he knows what the NHL is like today.”

While Marcus said there were times when having his dad as an OHL coach was tough, he said “what happened at the rink, stayed at the rink.

“There were some times when he would carry it to the house, but he’d just try to teach me what I needed to do to make the jump to the NHL. It was nothing but criticism that could help my play become better.”

When the Sabres come up against the Senators this year, there’s bound to be some sibling rivalry playing itself out on the ice.

Marcus said he’s going to be making sure his brother doesn’t score when they’re on the ice together.

“It will be different, but there’s no change from what we’ve been like during the years of playing road hockey. It’s going to be pretty intense.”

Mike admitted picking a team to root for will be tough when that time comes.

“I think my wife’s going to have to cheer for one and I’ll have to cheer for the other, try to keep the balance of the family,” he said, laughing. “It will make for exciting times, there’s no question about it. “If and when the time comes where they’re playing against each other ... it’s going to be a dream come true for them because they’re so competitive to begin with, and I know neither one is going to give an inch to the other.”