The weekend of January 24th and 25th 2015 will be a magical one at the Angry Buffalo at the Rose Garden when the Tim Hortons Backyard Classic once again takes over the backyard and outdoor bar for two straight days of outdoor hockey fun. Last year, the THBYC had over 30 teams participate over a two-day span as the ice held on just long enough for all games to be played. Features included Sabretooth helping out with the mites, a heated locker-room tent, four 35 ft by 90 ft long ice rinks with end board fencing, a championship rink with a scoreboard, Doug Allen singing the national anthems, music throughout on a high-quality Bose speaker system, Sabres Alumni bartenders, and SOOO much more.
This year promises to be even better than last year! Tim Hortons is back on board as the title sponsor of the event. A more logical rink setup is going to be featured this year so that all four rinks are in a line. New this year will be a Pace Rinks custom built Championship Ice Rink. Two rinks will be located inside of the Angry Buffalo at the Rose Garden's volleyball courts. An additional rink will be located next to the volleyball courts. This will mean that all of our rinks will be fully lit allowing for play to continue into the night. The developments have just begun for this year's installment of the Classic. We are looking forward to another sold-out event.
Hockey season is back meaning dry-land training is going to be traded for more ice time as preparations for the first games are being finalized. It also means that 6 am practices, spending 5+ days at the rink, and the pressure of academics and hockey are back onto the kids.
Thinking back to my playing days, all I ever wanted to do was play games. As a kid and even as an adult who actually likes going to practice every day? Ok get on the line because you didn't make a tape-to-tape pass on that last breakout drill. Skate faster in a meaningless circle drill! I could never put together the importance of a practice while I was a kid. Now as an adult you realize that skill development does require time on the ice honing our skills but do we really need to overwhelm our kids that much?
Let's look at our adult sports leagues. It's all games and no practices and trust me not everyone has the skills to be playing games without practicing but we realize practice isn't fun. So why do we subject our kids to practicing 5x more than they play?
While I understand that there are going to be kids that want to develop their skills and become the best that they possibly can be, this is where AAA hockey comes in. What we need to consider is reinventing and reintroducing the house league. Travel hockey has become so watered down because everyone wants to be a "travel" player. In reality many of these AA programs are just house leagues that wanted the travel name. Now these kids who wanted to just play games every weekend and practice once a week are subjected to practicing like a AAA team but may lack in the skill development department.
Some of my best memories were made in house hockey and playing pond hockey where yes the wins still matter but there is much less pressure and the focus is on having fun and beating your buddies. It's a friendly place for competition where kids can go to have fun and that is what I believe is missing in today's hockey leagues. You can't possibly tell me that the kids will remember just another game against a travel team more than their time playing outdoor ice hockey at the Tim Hortons Backyard Classic. Case and Point.
"In our backyard we have amazing youth hockey teams who are playing on a national level and you can watch for free!"
Why are we willing to shell out hundreds of dollars, sit in an hour of traffic pre and post-game, while spending $15 on beer and concessions watching the Sabres lose? Yet, literally in our backyard we have amazing youth hockey teams who are playing on a national level and you can watch often for free or under $10! Between the Buffalo Jr. Sabres teams to the Amherst Youth Hockey teams playing at the Northtown Center, four-rink facility in Amherst, NY, which hosts USA Hockey Nationals for multiple age levels every year; there is no reason to only pay to see the pros. Now don't get me wrong, I love going to a Sabres game at least once a year because it's a great atmosphere when you're spending time with 19,070 other people who share at least one thing in common with you, a love for Buffalo sports.
Coming from the referee perspective, I believe youth hockey has been revolutionized with USA Hockey's initiatives. In an attempt to better the game, in my opinion, they have lessened the quality of talent at a local level as compared to Hockey Canada. It is a different style of play up in the Great White North and it often trumps the USA Hockey talent. Yet don't let this turn you off because the United States is churning out young players like never before. And its not just boys playing hockey anymore, the girls game is rapidly growing as well!
Next time you want to go to watch a hockey game, avoid yourself the financial troubles and other difficulties associated with seeing a professional sports game and give youth sports a chance! Especially at the Nationals level you won't regret it!
With the couple days of warm weather which turned our ice rink into a swimming pool; some of you might have been smart enough to take out your plastic. But for those of you that stuck it out, Bravo! You may have been rewarded with a couple more skating days as the temperatures are staying low during the nighttime. However, with my time constraints I settled for taking the plastic from our Backyard Classic Rinks after ice had once again settled on top of our couple inches of water. This makes for a nightmare!
Lesson to be learned here: wait until the ice is completely gone, if possible, because even a thin layer of ice can accumulate during removal and make the plastic a 100 or more lb sheet. Unfortunately, in my case, we had to get it out to prepare for flag football leagues and it took me two and a half hours just to remove the plastic (granted I was by myself). And ALWAYS remember to check the slope of your land to see where the water will drain!!
Listed below are just some of the many news stories done and pictures taken at the 2013 Tim Hortons Backyard Classic. Please Enjoy!
On behalf of the children, their families, coaches, staff, Board of Directors, and Dominik Hasek, I would like to express our sincerest appreciation for your support of The Dominik Hasek Youth Hockey League, Inc. by playing in the 5th Annual Tim Hortons Backyard Classic.
It is through support from generous people such as you and your teammates that allows us to continue to make a difference in the lives of children all over our community.
As a 501(c)3, please accept this email as a receipt for the player fees you donated. Please retain this letter as final confirmation of your gift.
Thank you again for your generosity and support in helping change the lives of our children. We hope to see you at next year’s tournament!
Sean F. Green
The Dominik Hasek Youth Hockey League, Inc. DBA Hasek’s Heroes
Co-Chair Tim Hortons Backyard Classic
Co-Chair Tim Hortons Backyard Classic
@Backyard Classic and #Backyardclassic
My name is Nick Penberthy and am the Founder of the Tim Hortons Backyard Classic. Now after 5 years of running the THBYC we have raised over $30,000 for Hasek's Heroes.