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BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023


Hanging on a wall of the BGSU Ice Hockey Offices are 31 pictures of former Falcons who have gone on to National Hockey League careers.

That number could increase to 32 in the next few months.

Derek Whitmore signed a professional contract in March with the Buffalo Sabres, and played in eight games with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans.

Whitmore scored 27 goals in 38 games for the Falcons last season and one for the Americans during a two-week tryout in April.

A typical modest hockey player, he downplays his first professional goal.

‘It was kind of a broken play,’ Whitmore said. ‘I just went hard to the net and my right winger Anthony Stewart threw me a pass. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, but it was nice because my parents were there to see it.’

Whitmore’s two-year, $498,000 contract officially begins this month when he’ll report to the Sabres’ rookie camp on Sept. 14 at HSBC Arena. Buffalo’s veteran players will join the rest of the first years four days later.

He’s currently living in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., though he did spend some of his summer in Ohio.

‘I got my degree in exercise science from BG in August, and I was there for move-in weekend as well,’ Whitmore said. ‘It was great seeing the boys and coach one more time before everything gets going here [in New York] with my next season.’

BG’s former tri-captain gained experience in his degree field this summer when he served as a strength and conditioning coach during an internship with Puckmasters Hockey Training Center in Buffalo.

Whitmore also attended a Sabres summer training session with current Falcons Jake Cepis and Nick Eno – the Sabres’ 2007 seventh round draft pick. The former Falcon teammates worked out together from June 25 to July 1 with other Buffalo players and prospects.

‘His goal, since he was signed, is to solidify his position with the Sabres and keep improving to give himself a chance to play in the NHL,’ said Scott Paluch, Whitmore’s former coach at BGSU. ‘He has an opportunity to play with the world’s elite, and he needs to continue to progress to that level.’

At five feet nine inches, the 23-year-old forward is the second smallest player on Buffalo’s roster, but he said he’s not intimidated by that because ‘so many small players have gone on to successful NHL careers.’

So is he the next Brian Gionta, the New Jersey Devils’ forward who stands five feet seven inches and has more than 250 NHL points in six seasons?

Rochester is about all the two players currently have in common – both were born there.

But Whitmore does feel confident heading into his first NHL training camp. He said he thinks that by working out every morning before his afternoon internship with Puckmasters, he is in prime physical condition.

‘I’m excited, I’m anxious, but I want to represent Bowling Green,’ Whitmore said.

He said he’ll be keeping tabs on his old team this season, even as his pro career takes off.

‘Absolutely. I’m a Falcon, always. I had four great years there with coaches, players, everyone. I’ll never forget where I came from, and who I am today – that’s because I went to Bowling Green.’

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