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December 2012 Volume 18 ISSUE 3

See Page 8 by Michael Mroziak

See “Pysyk Making The Most Of His Opportunity” by Dave Reichert - page 4

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December 2012 Volume 18 ISSUE 3

INSIDE THIS ISSUE P.O. Box 354 North Tonawanda, NY 14120

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Pysyk Makes Most Of Opportunity

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Statue Unveiling pg 4 POND HOCKEY Returns To Buffalo Plans, Registration Set-Up &Formats

Steven Manson Editor

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Paul Manson

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Writers

CHL40 League Debuts

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JR. SABRES Ranked

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REGALS Bring Game Across Border

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Chubak Secures pg 12 Honors NIAGARA HOCKEY Rankings

CEO and Publisher

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Business Spin-Off

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High School PREVIEW

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Advertisers Buffalo Jr. Sabres Buffalo Regals Cheektowaga Warriors Hanes Tactical Martial Arts Holiday Twin Rinks Magic Bucket Niagara Univerity NiceRink Randal Montesanti

Jim Fink Dave Reichert Janice Cavaretta Stu Boyer Tim O’Shei Mike Mroziak Mike Haim Dave Ricci Western New York Hockey Magazine No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopy and facsimile, without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Pysyk Making The Most Of His Opportunity G By Dave Reichert

oing into the 2012-13 season, the Buffalo Sabres organization boasts a significant amount of young defensive talent. One of the brightest young talents currently on the blue line for the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans is twenty year-old rookie Mark Pysyk. Pysyk was Buffalo’s first choice, selected twenty-third overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft. Prior to this, his first campaign in Rochester, Pysyk played his junior hockey for the past five seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. Just less than two months into the AHL season, Psyk already sees significant differences from his time in the WHL, particularly in terms of personal responsibility. “It’s definitely been a lot different than the last five years in junior,” said Pysk. “Some things jump out. Nobody’s here to hold your hand as you go thru stuff. Meals are on your own. You’re just expected to be at the rink at a certain time and be ready to play. It’s been good. It’s been fun so far and definitely different. The Amerks have gotten off to a good start in the early going. They find themselves right in the thick of a tightly contested race in the North Division. For Pysyk the adjustment to play in the American League is made much easier with the team winning. “When the team is playing well everything goes well, “explained Pysyk. “When you are winning everything is great, it’s been a great start. The enthusiasm of Rochester’s home crowd has been something the team has been able to feed off of. For Pysyk and his teammates the excitement in the building makes the Blue Cross Arena a great place to play. “The fans have been great,” confirmed Pysyk, “It’s just an amazing atmosphere in there. They’re cheering and loud, it’s fun to play in front of people; so that help the team out as well.” Throughout his professional career, Pysyk has prided himself on being a well-rounded multi-faceted defenseman. “I want to be responsible in my own end”, stated Pysyk. Then I pick my spots when there is an opportunity to be able to jump up and add to the offense.” The American Hockey League has always been a league that has displayed

up and coming talent. This season, the talent in the league is further enhanced by virtue of the National Hockey League Lockout. Many players with NHL experience are appearing in lineups throughout the league. As a result the competitive balance in the AHL is at a very high level. “In this league there are great players on every team,” observed Pysyk. “Anything can happen at any time in the game. If you are up in a game nothing is set in stone. Also on the reverse of that you have the talent

to come back. It makes for exciting games: no matter what the score is for the first two periods and two and a half periods.” Pysyk is learning a great deal from being a part of a strong team and lineup. In his time with the Oil Kings Pysyk often found himself as a standout on a team that was not the most successful. “Anywhere you go you want to win, that’s the goal of every team, “said Pysyk. I’ve gone through some struggles and you know what continued page 9

“French Connection” STATUE UNVEILING

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By James Fink

he chill of an early autumn evening gave way to warmth as several hundred Buffalo Sabres fans along with a slew of alumni, sponsors and others made their way on Friday evening to see the official unveiling of “Alumni Plaza” and the more than 2,000 pound-bronze statue that pays homage to the “French Connection” line of Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert and the late Rick Martin. The plaza and statue, more than one year in the works, is the latest in a series of upgrades Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula has made to turn First Niagara Center and the Buffalo Niagara region into “hockey heaven.” “After today the landscape of the plaza has forever changed,” said Rick Jeanneret, the Sabres longtime broadcaster and event MC. The nearly 10-foot tall statue is Alumni Plaza’s centerpiece that also includes plaques with the names of all 401 players who have skated for the Sabres from the team’s inception in 1970 until the end of the most recent season. It was created by Jerry McKenna, the same artist who created statues at Notre Dame and the Professional Football Hall of Fame. McKenna based his statue on a 1975 photo former Courier-Express photographer Ron Moscati took. It was one of the few action shots that included all three, Sabres officials said. Pegula said the genesis of Alumni Plaza, located just east of First Niagara Center’s atrium, comes from his days as a Sabres fan and season ticket holder. Pegula, who lived for many years in Orchard Park, bought the team in February 2011 and immediately brought a sense of family to the organization. “This is ‘Alumni Plaza’, but it grew from being a fan to an owner,” Pegula said. The buzz around the plaza and statue’s debut grew. despite a windy, 40-degree night, fans flocked to Perry Street to watch the unveiling. Among them was Al Blachowski of Cheektowaga and his daughter, Alexis. Blachowski was one of the those fans who camped out in from of Memorial Auditorium to buy the few tickets that were available for the Sabres’ home games. He came to the event loaded with memories of Perreault, Martin and Robert. “When this was announced, I knew I just had to be here,” he said. The event included a tribute video to the French Connection that included highlights of their many goals and words of praise from the likes of Wayne Gretzky, former coach Floyd Smith and longtime defenseman Jim Schoenfeld. At 7:34 p.m., the statue was officially unveiled to a whirl of clicks and flashes from camera phones and digital cameras. “It’s extremely humbling,” said Corey Martin, 26, Martin’s son. Martin died in March 2011, one month after Pegula bought the team. “The only thing I can say, is that the whole thing is overwhelming,” Robert said, “It’s beyond thinking. I feel like it came together at the right place and the right time and because of the right people. All of the mixes came together.” Perreault called the whole event as “something very special.” Perreault was surprised by a large contingent of fans who came from his native Victoriaville, Que. to see the unveiling. They cheered loudly - in both French and English. “What can I say?” Perreault said.”It was a very special night. This is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

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POND HOCKEY Returns To Buffalo L

abatt’s Blue Beer has announced details for the sixth annual All registrants will be Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament. The 2013 divided into respective Tournament will take place Saturday, February 9, 2013, from divisions based on skill 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., at Erie Basin Marina. More than 650 players will level. Next, Labatt Blue compete across 12 divisions with seven player rosters. will randomly draw teams “Over the past several years, we’ve dealt with everything from in each division. A list perfect weather to slush, snow, rain and even no ice at all. Through of chosen teams will be trial, we’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge around announced on December weather factors, contingency plans and feasibility around what’s 7. At that time, teams will best for players, tournament organizers and city crews,” said Lisa have the opportunity to Texido, associate brand manager, Labatt Blue. “Because the Labatt update their rosters, such Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament will always be at the mercy as adding or changing of the weather, shifting to a one-day tournament offers the best players until January 15, opportunity to deliver a great hockey experience for everyone 2013. The cost to register is $250 per team. involved.” According to Texido, tournament officials reviewed player Players will hit the ice first thing Saturday morning and play feedback around the tournament’s typical quick sell-out in deciding under the lights well into Saturday night. Fans can watch the hockey to change the registration process. “Every year, we hear from action from the Erie Basin Marina lot overlooking the lake or enjoy dozens of teams who want a shot to play on-ice in our tournament. cold Labatt Blue and listen to live music from a larger, heated tent. We typically sellout within minutes and we know that can be Tournament organizers also are introducing a frustrating to teams. This year, we opted to shift to a new team selection process this year. A new lottery lottery system to give teams ample time register for SEE PAGE 6 FOR system will randomly select teams. Beginning on Plans, Registration, a chance to compete in the 2013 games.” Friday, November 16 through Friday, November 30, Tournament Set-Up Along with hockey, the tournament will feature team captains can register their full team rosters for a huge, heated beer tent, live music, a deejay, & Team Format a chance to compete in the 2013 tournament. plenty of food and Labatt Blue beer.

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POND HOCKEY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5

POND HOCKEY

How to Register a Team

Contingency Plans

Beginning November 16 through November 30, teams can register for the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament at www.labattbluepondhockey.com Full team rosters, including proof of age for all players, must be submitted upon registration. Teams will be divided into their respective divisions and then selected via random lottery draw. Players can find out if their team has been selected by checking the tournament website or the Labatt Blue US Facebook page www.facebook.com/LabattBlueUS on Friday, December 7.

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ach year, Labatt Blue and tournament organizers take weather patterns and historical data into account when determining the best possible date for the tournament and related backup plans. Because the tournament needs between 10 and 12 inches of ice on Lake Erie for safe play, mid-February offers the best, most optimal weather for those ice conditions. Because weather plays a continual factor, this tournament will always be in the hands of Mother Nature. Tournament officials note that this year’s contingency plans include the following: •Sunday, February 10 is slated as a make-up day should weather on Saturday prevent safe hockey play or impact tournament games that day. •If Lake Erie does not freeze, or the accumulated ice depth does not reach the 10-12 inches needed for safe hockey play at least one week prior to the event, the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament will be cancelled. •If the tournament is cancelled prior to hockey play starting on Feb. 9, all teams will be refunded their $250 registration fee. • In the event the pond hockey tournament is cancelled due to weather or lack of ice, tournament organizers will likely shift the event to a street hockey tournament, as they did in 2012. If that happens, teams who held a slot in the pond hockey tournament will have the right of first refusal to play street hockey. All teams who register to play in the tournament would be charged a $100 registration fee. Now in its sixth year, the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament is recognized as one of the most unique and anticipated outdoor winter events in Western New York. “There’s something special about coming down to Buffalo’s waterfront in the dead of winter to cheer on your favorite team with a Blue in hand. We hope to see thousands of fans down at Erie Basin Marina on February 9 to celebrate the return of pond hockey in Western New York,” said Texido. “I am always excited to celebrate winter in Buffalo and the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament has become a popular winter tradition,” said Mayor Byron Brown. “I’d like to thank Labatt Blue for its continued commitment to downtown Buffalo, and encourage city residents and visitors to attend this great event that attracts thousands of hockey players and spectators to the Buffalo waterfront each winter.”

Once teams have been selected, a $250 registration fee will be due. For questions, team captains can contact Ed Ellis at ed@labattbluepondhockey.com

POND HOCKEY

Tournament Set Up and Team Format

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d Ellis returns as tournament director and will oversee team registration, referee recruitment, game scheduling and tournament day events. •Players will skate on 10 man-made rinks, each 150’ long x 75’ deep, constructed using water, shovels, small plows and hay barrels. •Players help maintain the ice with shovels and buckets of water, much like pick-up games on a neighborhood pond. •Teams will be comprised of four to seven players, 21 years of age and older, who play a four-on-four format, absent a goalie. •Nets are six inches high and six feet wide like the goals used in the Labatt Blue US Adult Pond Hockey Championships held in Eagle River, Wisconsin. •Teams will compete in a round robin format in a specified division. The winner of each bracket will go on to play a championship game. “At the heart of this tournament, Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey is about creating an authentic real hockey experience that brings players back to their roots,” said Texido.

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It’s all about the wood:

CHL40 League Debuts in East Aurora By Michael Mroziak

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here are several adult hockey leagues throughout Western New York but the newest to emerge on the map brings with it a first: it’s the first known adult league anywhere in North America that requires its players to use wooden hockey sticks. John Cimperman tells about the formation of the Labatt Blue Classic Hockey League, also known as CHL40, which debuted on October 28 at the semi-outdoor Classic Rink in East Aurora. “There was a growing demand for an Over-40 league, a league that was a bit more focused on recreation versus competition,” he told WNY Hockey Magazine. “Everyone in this league is over 40 years of age and, actually, the majority of players are over 50.” So why make wood sticks mandatory? Partly for the novelty, Cimperman admits, but also to give CHL40 its own unique identity. “We want to differentiate the league from any other,” said Cimperman. “It also compliments the philosophy of the CHL40, recreation over competition.” The CHL40 will continue its season through March. Games are always played on Sundays, beginning in the early evening but will conclude by mid-evening. In other words, no late night starts on the eve of starting a new work week. The league is starting small, with only six teams taking part this season. Cimperman says there was enough demand to start with more teams and they’ll expand next season. About that wood stick requirement… over the years manufacturers have advanced stick technology, starting with shafts and replaceable blades then moving to one-piece models made up

of high-tech yet light materials. One manufacturer has even recently employed the help of a company better known for golf clubs to design one of its latest sticks. Wood sticks, meanwhile, have become fewer on the racks at many local pro shops and some have even begun phasing them out. Cimperman, while talking to WNYHM on the phone was actually placing an order for wood sticks online. So doesn’t this “wood stick only” pose something of a challenge for its players? Or could it perhaps allow wood sticks to make a comeback? “I think if this league adds teams and demand for wood sticks picks up, you will see retailers add them,” said Cimperman. “It’s crazy to have a $200 stick for a rec league. The guys have been able to pick up a wood stick for around $25 and have been very appreciative. Funny thing is, the chances of the wood stick breaking are also less.” The CHL40 is the second adult league to open on the East Aurora ice. The Old Tyme Hockey League of East Aurora is entering its fifth season and plays on other nights during the week, as well as late Sunday nights. OTHLEA’s age minimum is 30, ten years younger than CHL40. It is also independently owned and operated, while CHL40 is run with the help of the rink. Between the two leagues, youth hockey and popular public skates, the rink where the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins once made history (when it was set up temporarily on the floor of Ralph Wilson Stadium) has now turned the beautiful village of East Aurora into a growing Western New York hockey destination. For more information on CHL40, visit www.thinkrink.org

BUFFALO JR. SABRES:

Nationally Ranked… In Canada T By Michael Mroziak

he Buffalo Junior Sabres, once a club that Canadian rivals looked upon as an easy two points in their league standings, are now discovering firsthand that the lone U.S. franchise in the Ontario Junior Hockey League are no longer pushovers. In fact, through the American Thanksgiving holiday the Jr. Sabres were kings of the hill. As of mid-November, the Jr. Sabres held first place in the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s West Division. In second place were the Georgetown Raiders who did have games in hand, but even had those extra

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games been victories would fall just short of catching Buffalo in the standings. The team’s success on the ice has also gained the attention of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, an umbrella organization that oversees ten Canadian junior leagues including the OJHL. So impressed was the CJHL that twice this year the Jr. Sabres were given “honourable mentions” as part of the CJHL’s weekly Top 20 ranking of Junior-A teams across Canada. In November, they actually made the Top 20, ranking 11th among all Junior-A teams throughout the Great White

North in the list released on November 12, 2012. The following week, they ranked 12th. The former Sabres captain who is now coaching and managing the Jr. Sabres puts the credit on the players. “They have all committed to putting in the work,” said Jr. Sabres head coach and general manager Michael Peca. “When we put work ahead of skill, we become a tough team to play against.” Along the way, the Jr. Sabres enjoyed a six-game winning streak during which goaltender

Parker Gahagen (Williamsville, NY) recorded three of his five shutouts so far this season. Two of them were backto-back against the Oakville B l a d e s (November 6) and the Georgetown Raiders (November 8). Those two shutouts were also the second and third in a row in home starts for Gahagen, who also blanked the Mississauga Chargers on October 30. Also during the Jr. Sabres’ hot first half of November there was the rise of forward Tyler Gjurich as the team’s far and away leading scorer. Through the Thanksgiving holiday, Gjurich had 24 goals and 18 assists for the season. Half of his goals came in continued page 11

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4

point you don’t want to get to. You know what directions you don’t want things to go to. Having gone through those things you see things a little differently than you did when you were in those times. You need to learn from your past mistakes. You move on and make the best of your experiences. “Every hockey player is going to be on some teams that struggle at some point,” continued Pysyk. “Also they are going to be on teams that are prospering. I think going through those tough times really makes you appreciate the good times a lot more and makes you want to keep the good times going. You want to keep the momentum going as long as you can when things are going well.” Playing on the same ice surfaces with NHL talent has also helped to bring out the best in Pysyk. “I think it’s a great benefit for young players like myself. Playing against NHL caliber guys is what everybody wants to do one day. Challenging yourself and pushing yourself a little bit more. Playing against guys of a high caliber, every game there are great players on

each team.” Learning from teammates on a day in, day out basis is something Pysyk is benefiting from. “If you watch a guy like Cody Hodgson you can pick up little things that he does every single day,” observed Pysyk. “With his attention to detail, he works hard no matter what the situation; whether it’s an optional practice or a hard battle practice. Just the attitude of those type of players is something you can watch and pickup some things and try to do them yourself.” A well rounded game has helped the young blueliner gain the confidence of the coaching staff. Pysyk has seen significant ice time in all game situations. “They’ve given me a lot of opportunities,” said Pysyk. “I’ve been

Hockey magazine

REGALS 15U:

Bringing Their Game Across The Border T By Michael Mroziak

he Buffalo Junior Sabres Junior-A hockey club competes regularly in a Canadian-based league. So, too, does the Buffalo Blades Junior B franchise. Beginning this season, the Buffalo Regals entered one of its youth teams into regular Canadian competition as well, with the 15U squad joining the South-Central Triple-A Hockey League. Why did the midget-minor level squad decide to “take off to the Great White North”? “From our minor midget perspective, this put us in a league with the number one team in Ontario at the 97 (birth year) age level according to myhockeyrankings.com as well

as multiple teams in the top 25 such as Brampton, Grey-Bruce, Southern Tier, and Hamilton,” said Regals 15U assistant coach Chris Maxick. “Playing against the best teams makes you better and having our organization being able to play against top tier competition at each age level is a tremendous asset towards development.” Participating in the SCTA league allows the Regals to travel shorter distances for road games. The rivals are based in Southern Ontario, along the Niagara region, through the Hamilton area. The longest road trip, Maxick estimated, was to Grey-Bruce, about a four-hour continued page 11

playing some power play, some penalty kill, every situation, but it’s something that I have to keep earning. I need to keep working hard every day to make sure I maintain the spot that I’m in. I don’t want them to have any reason not to put me out in those situations. They help every day in practice, stay out after practice and work on things. It’s another tool that’s there for everybody on the team to help us get better.” The battle for a spot in the team’s lineup has made even practice sessions a challenge for the players. “We have nine healthy defensemen,” explained Pysyk. “Every day in practice everybody is battling and trying to earn spots in the game day lineup. Its healthy competition, that little bit of pressure makes the team a lot stronger.” On Tuesday October 23rd, Pysyk and his teammates had the opportunity to play a game on an NHL ice surface. As a result of the National Hockey league work stoppage, The Amerks moved their regular season game against the Hamilton Bulldogs to the home of the Sabres, the First Niagara Center. “That was awesome, that’s the goal,” confirmed Pysyk. That’s where everyone wants to be in this organization is with the Sabres and in that Sabres’ locker room. To get a little taste of that and play in front of the fans in the big rink was a pretty special experience and a big motivator for everybody. That’s the next step in my career and hopefully at some point in my life I’ll be playing in that arena and be in that dressing room, it’s great motivation.” Despite the ultimate goal of earning a spot with the Sabres in the National Hockey League, Pysyk knows he must focus on the task at hand with the Amerks. “I’m just trying to take it slowly here, keep getting into the game day lineup and keep proving myself.”

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Bring Game Across . . .

Being competitive has helped the Regals gain some respect among their Ontario rivals and their fans. Maxick was asked about how the team felt as the lone American club in an otherwise Ontariobased league. “I think the response overall has been favorable from the opposing parents,” he said. “I don’t really think it becomes something of national pride, but more rather each game is a chance to prove ourselves and prove we belong among the better teams within our league. “Probably the best comment I have heard concerning this was from the mothers from the Hamilton team, who were ‘disappointed that they were unable to stay here longer due to the amazing shopping”.

JR. SABRES: Nationally

Ranked . . .

November alone. In fact, Gjurich scored those twelve goals within a five-game span, including a four-goal outburst in Buffalo’s 7-0 drubbing of the Georgetown Raiders on November 8. Tied for second in scoring are Pat Egan and Ryan Schmelzer, with 25 points each. Egan has contributed speed and, although he’s had a couple of brief dry spells, has amounted to a point per game on average. Schmelzer has also been a key contributor, recording 18 assists including several in the team’s offensive bursts in November. Also enjoying some good play during the month was forward Nolan Sheeran, who has contributed at key times including the overtime winning goal against the North York Rangers (a 5-4 Buffalo win) on November 14 at home. The Jr. Sabres’ legacy players were also making key contributions, with Ryall Ledyard recording his first OJHL goal on October 27 at the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, followed by three more goals in November including a two-goal game in Buffalo’s 4-0 shutout of Oakville at the Northtown Center at

or other new or gently used stuffed toy for the second annual “Jr. Sabres Teddy Bear Toss”. When the Jr. Sabres score their first goal of the game, fans can toss the toys on the ice. All toys that are collected will be donated to the Buffalo Sabres Alumni for their Christmas time projects that make the holiday season more cheerful for Western New York’s less fortunate families.

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REGALS 15U:

trip from Holiday Twin Rinks in Cheektowaga, where the Regals are headquartered. “Many are close including Fort Erie, Welland, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls to name a few.” Maxick suggests the league in which the Regals 15U squad competes allows them to continue the mission of player development in an environment where there’s always a high level of competition among the rivals. The consistently high competition, he adds, keeps players from “getting away with things” - in other words, playing only as hard as you need to sometimes, a habit which actually can stagnate one’s development. “For our age level, there is not necessarily adjustments for playing against Canadians, but for the younger age groups, with the USA hockey rule change with the checking it should prove interesting to see how that goes with the kids playing against kids who have played hockey with body contact for a year if they did not previously play with the Regals,” he said. So far, the Regals have held their own against the cross-border competition. Through the end of October, the Regals sat in third place with a record of six wins, four losses and two ties. They trailed the first place Oakville Rangers by only three points in the standings, though Oakville held three games in hand.

Amherst on November 6. Brian Ruff also recorded his first point on October 27 then scored his first OJHL goal on October 30 in the team’s 6-0 defeat of Mississauga at Amherst. The first-place Jr. Sabres will now be put to the test with an exceptionally grueling schedule in December. After playing two road games during the Thanksgiving holiday then hosting the Mississauga Chargers on November 26, the team will play four games in four nights, beginning December 1 at Georgetown, followed by road dates at Milton and Hamilton respectively, before completing the four-night stand at home on Tuesday, December 4 against the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots. Twice the Jr. Sabres will be at home next month, on Monday, December 10 against the St. Michael’s Buzzers and then on Wednesday, December 19 against the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. TEDDY BEAR TOSS COMING DECEMBER 10 Fans attending the game on Monday, December 10 at the Northtown Center at Amherst are asked to bring a teddy bear

HELPING TO “ROCK OUT HUNGER” Members of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres were already in the holiday spirit on November 15, donating time to assist the Food Bank of Western New York. Players Parker Gahagen, Tyler Gjurich, Josh Kielich, Max Mikowski, Derek Patterson and David Seward spent time that morning unloading the cars of arriving donors who brought turkeys and other food items to a truck parked along Transit Road, hosted by radio station 97 Rock. One of that station’s personalities, DJ Jickster, lived in the truck from November 14 until November 21, where he also did live segments throughout the day to support the Food Bank. During the Jr. Sabres’ appearance, head coach

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8

and general manager Michael Peca spent some time on the air with Jickster talking about the Jr. Sabres, as well as the ongoing NHL lockout. LIVE! STARRING… THE JR. SABRES Members of the Jr. Sabres also appeared at Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore in November to serve as interview guests for a program at the school known as “Live! Starring… You”. The program offers the girls attending the school an opportunity to interview real personalities and train in interviewing and reporting skills. Previous guests include cast members of “High School Musical”, snowboarder Shaun White and actress America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” fame, just to name a few. Representing the Jr. Sabres at their appearance were players Sean Federow, Dylan Howatt, Derek Patterson and Brian Ruff, who spoke of adjusting to the life of Junior-A hockey, which for some means being away from home and from family friends, as well as the commitments required to develop for possible futures in the game.

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Chubak Secures Conference Honors G HAVERHILL, Mass. oaltender Carsen Chubak continued his solid play between the pipes for the Niagara hockey team earning his fourth-straight Atlantic Hockey Goalie of the Week Honors and fifth of the season. The junior earned a weekend sweep in AHA play against Canisius on Friday, Nov. 16 and Robert Morris on Saturday, Nov. 17 to secure the Purple Eagles the 20th ranking in the most recent USCHO.com Division I Poll. After shutting down the

Golden Griffins, 2-1, Chubak helped the Purple Eagles (8-23; 7-0-0 AHA) earn their fourth straight victory on home ice with the 3-0 win over RMU. Chubak has blanked his opponents in the last three games which has not been done since Greg Gardner in the 1999-00 season. Chubak and the Purple Eagles have not allowed a goal at Dwyer in the last 205:40 minutes of play. The Prince Albert, Sask native made a total of 74 saves in 120 minutes of play this weekend for a .987 save percentage

NIAGARA HOCKEY

Cracks into National Rankings A MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – fter dropping a pair of Atlantic Hockey opponents this past weekend to remain undefeated in conference play, the Niagara men’s hockey team garnered national attention as the Purple Eagles were slated in the 20th spot in the USCHO.com Division I Poll. The previously unranked Purple Eagles (8-2-3; 7-0-0 AHA) enter the ranking at No. 20 with 112 votes during the week of Nov. 19 after becoming the fifth team in the nation to register eight wins, joining Boston College, Denver, Notre Dame and New Hampshire. Niagara’s inclusion on the USCHO.com poll is the first time the Purps have been ranked in the online poll since March 24, 2008 when the team was slated 19th. The Purple Eagles were ranked in the top-20 for 10 weeks during that season, with their highest ranking coming in at 17. Niagara wrapped up the 2007-08 campaign slated in the 19th position with a 22-

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10-4 record while earning a trip to the 2008 NCAA Tournament for the third time in the program’s history. Niagara is currently on a ninegame unbeaten streak which is tied for the longest in the nation with Boston College (9-0-0) who remained the nation’s topranked team in the USCHO.com Poll. In seven AHA contests, NU has outscored its opponents by a 24-3 margin which is the fewest tallies allowed in conference play in the nation. The Purple Eagles are ranked third in the nation in combined special teams (58.1) and their powerplay is currently slated in the eight spot in the nation (89.4). The USCHO.com Poll consists of 50 voters, including 28 coaches from the Division I conferences and 22 beat writers and sports professionals from across the country. The poll, published weekly by the Associated Press, is a production of USCHO. com, which provides in-depth coverage of college hockey.

and a 0.50 goals-against average. He made 31 saves against Canisius, and added another 43 saves in the win over the Colonials which was one shy of his career-high. Chubak is now 8 -1- 3 on the season, making 385 saves. The five-time AH Goalie of the Week holds the top spot in the nation in save percentage (.970), and goals-against average (0.99). His winning percentage of .792 places him ninth nationally. From the 2009-10 through the

2011-12 season, the hockey team combined for five shutouts, while Chubak has garnered five in this season alone which is also tops in the nation.

Hockey & Business Spin-Off C

By James Fink

olleen DiPirro can always tell when the Northtown Center has a major hockey tournament booked. “Our lines get flooded with people looking for hotel rooms and places to eat or shop,” said DiPirro, Amherst Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer. The Northtown Center with its four pads has become the regional hub for hosting hockey tournaments and figure skating competition. When the complex was being developed in the late 1990s, town leaders stressed the economic spin off for area hotels, restaurants and retailers was one of the driving forces behind the $18.3 million project. “It has exceeded expectations in that regard,” DiPirro said. Case in point: When Amherst Youth Hockey played host this past spring to USA Hockey’s Tier I tournament, Visit Buffalo Niagara estimated the five-day tournament left behind an economic impact approaching $2 million including more than 4,000 hotel room nights booked. “Having those four rinks together is critical,” said Pete Harvey, Visit Buffalo Niagara director of sports development. “It makes a big difference about what we can and can’t book.” Hockey tournaments once took a back seat to other amateur sports bookings like swim meets and soccer, but with the emergence of the Northtown Center - which opened in 1998 - and, coming in two years the Buffalo Sabres’ HarborCenter, hockey and figure skating clearly dominate the bookings. “Just the Pepsi Tournament alone uses 5,000 room nights,” Harvey said. The Pepsi Tournament, founded by the Pastor family, takes place over five weekends at Holiday Twin Rinks in Cheektowaga and Leisure Rinks in West Seneca. It is one of the region’s oldest youth hockey tournaments. The Northtown Center is not alone in producing an continued page 13

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High School Federation PREVIEW A By Dave Ricci

s the NHL lockout drags on fans don’t have to look any further than the Western New York High School Hockey Federation to quench their thirst for the game they love. With every division have breathtaking races down to the wire last season, 2012-13 should be just as intense as teams look to Super Sunday-and beyond.

“They know what it takes to be able to go that far so there going to be able to spread that (work ethic) as well to the younger guys,” Pray said. Last years fourth line of Mike Diliberto, Rob McNamara and Anthony Amoia will now shoulder the load as the top line. But they will be backed by a promising allfreshmen line of Trevor Pray, Anthony Tulipane and Ryan Zier. Mitchell Calkins returns as the Division IV Bulldogs top blue liner and Brennon After winning its school’s first- Sarratori also returns. ever state title with a thrilling 6-3 Jeff White, Zach Jakes and Steve victory over Oswego, Kenmore Schulz are up from JV looking to East will no doubt have a target on make an impact. its back as the rest of D-IV will be Ken East took first place with 25 looking to topple them. points and division best 99 goals “We’re trying not to use the for. The Bulldogs will focus on being word ‘rebuild’ but we know there’s stronger in their own end and hope going to be some growing pains,” that new offensive stars will come to coach Kyle Pray said.”So our goal is light as the season goes on. to try and get better as the season Williamsville East, who returns goes along and hopefully do some a strong team, was right on the damage at sectional time. But we Bulldogs tail with 24 points and just know there’s going to be some ups 20 goals against. and downs along the way.” Will-South, Sweet Home and The Bulldogs lost a total of 14 Grand Island complete Division IV players as nine seniors graduated Division I and an additional five players moved There is no such thing as a night on to play junior hockey-three with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres and one with off in Division I. Just ask Frontier coach Bob Klimowicz. Ottawa 67’s. His Falcons posted 18 points in Ken East returns its goal keeping tandem of seniors Mike Davern and regular season play last year to edge Trevor Taggart who both saw quality out Lancaster (16) and Clarence (15) for the Division I title. Klimowicz feels playing time last year.

Business Spin-Off economic impact on its community. The same is true in Fort Erie, Ont., home to the twin-pad LeisurePlex complex, and Niagara Falls, Ont.’s Gale Centre, which has four pads. Former Niagara Falls Mayor Ted Salci said filling hotel rooms and restaurants has been an ancillary spin-off to the $34 million complex. “It helps, especially, in the shoulder season,” Salci said. Norm Leyh, former County of Cattaraugus Industrial Development Agency executive director, who help put together the financial package that brought the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena to life a decade ago,

this year will bring the same type of intense play. “I do,” Bob Klimowicz said.”I know Lancaster is going to be tough this year. It’s been a battle between us and Lancaster the last few years, and Clarence, Rich (Brooks) always does a nice job making those guys competitive and always produces some upsets along the way. I expect it to be very competitive in our division and probably come down to the last week of the season.” The Falcons will be led by senior captain Nick Ortiz and his line mates and assistant captains, Bob Piotrowicz and Gavin Evancho. Evancho, who played in the Bowman Cup, was a second team all-star. Piotrowicz played in the Bowman Cup and was a first team all-star. The Frontier defense will be anchored juniors Adam Skopinski and Matt Schifferle. Senior Cooper Soto returns between the pipes after a season that saw him also play in the Bowman Cup and earn a first team all-star nod. Klimowicz said knowing that every win or loss could mean the difference between first or fourth place in the league has his team focused and not taking any league game for granted. “Last year we had one of those slip ups and we really learned from it. We ended up tying Lockport in one of the last games of the season which almost cost us the division title. For whatever reason Lockport,

every year, always has a game against us that they either upset us or come close to upsetting us. You just try to tell the kids it’s a long season, there’s gonna be peaks and valleys and you’ve just got to get through it. We’ve got a good, bunch of guys that come to practice with a good work ethic.”

Division II Niagara Wheatfield shook up the Federation when it stunned Williamsville North 4-0 to claim the Large School title at Super Sunday. But after graduating 11 playersand losing an additional three-this young Falcons team will have to fight even harder for every single point. Leading the way is senior defense man Matt Peters. In his fourth season, Peters is a solid, smart blueliner who can be a calming force for the youngsters. The Falcons welcome back junior Nate Sommers who now assumes the role of starting goalie. Top line of Mike Parisi, Anthony Merante and Anthony Vekich will lead the offensive attack. Vekich is a top-notch play maker who can generate offense. “I think we’re hoping, more than anything, that they just increase their roles as leaders and set examples,” coach Rick Wrazin said. “We feel like we have guys coming in that can do the job, if they feed off of (the leaders). we certainly don’t want to count on just a couple of guys.” continued page 14

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12

said economic spin-offs were crucial to selling people about making the $20 million investment in the two-pad complex. “We certainly looked at how hotels were filling up in Amherst and Fort Erie because of their rinks,” Leyh said. Phil Genco, Jamestown Savings Bank Arena marketing and graphics coordinator, credits the rink with bringing new life to downtown Jamestown. The arena complex attracts as many as 750,000 people through its doors on an annual basis. Hockey is clearly the main draw, especially with the rink home to the Jamestown Ironmen of the North American Hockey League, but the venue has also played host

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to concerts and other special events. Bands like REO Speedwagon and singers like Brian McKnight have performed at the arena. “Look at our hotels,” Genco said. “When we got something going, they are filled. So are the restaurants.” A decade later, Leyh said all the preconstruction predictions have proven true when it comes to the arena. It has brought people in to Jamestown, cleaned up a blighted area and given the city a sense of importance, Leyh said. “The blueprint has come to life,” Leyh said. “We knew the arena would be an economic development driver and it has delivered on that promise.”

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High School Federation PREVIEW

Though Niagara Wheatfield finished in third place last year with 19 points, they did lead DII with 64 goals for. Division winners St.Joe’s had a miniscule 18 goals against. WillNorth, second place with 20 points, is always a threat.

Division III

West Seneca West claimed the Division III crown, but falling short of the goal of Super Sunday left them all with an empty feeling.

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After falling in the semis in a double OT loss, WSW coach Kevin Rozo said the sting of that loss has served as motivation for everyone of his returning players. “You can tell that these guys are just chomping at the bit. We practice in the morning, 5:30 am and in years past kids would just kind of stroll into the locker room at 5:30 or so, we’ve got guys out on the ice 15-20 minutes early. out there practicing

ready to go. They’re determined to take that next step. The motivation part shouldn’t be a factor for us this year.” Saying that goals are high, Rozo feels that his team is strong from the goalie out with a solid defense and the ability to roll three, possibly four lines. West Seneca West led D III in goals for and against last year.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13

They will be led by captain John Danovskis, who Rozo dubbed as a good all-around player, defenseman Matt Barth (ast.capt.), Pat Ciancio (ast. capt.), Brandon Bork and center Tyler Chodkowski a first team allstar who comes into the season two goals away from the school’s all-time record. Second place St. Francis and North Tonawanda should present a strong challenge.

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WNY Hockey Magazine - December 2012  

December issue of WNY Hockey Magazine. Make sure to check us out at www.wnyhockeynow.com

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