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.
"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!!
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.