Tim Hortons Backyard Classic returns to ‘play it forward’
Weekend hockey tournament event to benefit two area organizations
LANCASTER, NY(Jan. 21, 2015)– It’s time to get your ice skates sharpened and start taping your hockey stick. The annual Tim Hortons Backyard Classic returns this weekend – featuring two days of ice hockey on four rinks in the backyard of the Angry Buffalo at The Rose Garden.
The tournament is now in its seventh year and organizers are planning for up to 80 teams and more than 400 players to compete in this year’s event. The tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 24, and Sunday, Jan. 25, at The Rose Garden, 2753 Wehrle Drive, Lancaster.
A full schedule of the tournament will be available Thursday, Jan. 22. Games are tentatively scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. each day.
Williamsville North High School graduate Nick Penberthy founded the tournament in 2009 as a way to raise money for area organizations. The event started in his backyard before moving to its current location at The Rose Garden.
The tournament’s chairman, Chris Taggart, said this year’s event will benefit two organizations – Unyts and the Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Team.
Taggart said he is excited to pay it forward by assisting both of this year’s beneficiaries while the tournament continues to “play it forward.”
“We were blown away that [Unyts] has so much involvement with so many high schools in the area,” Taggart said. “We are glad to be benefiting the organization.”
Taggart said that because the tournament will also benefit the Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Team, its players and their family members have decided to attend the Backyard Classic.
Two games to be played at noon each day will feature the sled hockey team. Additionally, Brad Emmerson, a member of Team USA Sled Hockey, will be visiting the tournament to sign autographs and display his gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics.
The four hockey rinks measure 40 feet by 100 feet and were each crafted by Pace Landscaping and Ice Rinks. Taggart said the company’s owner, Mike Pace, and his crew will be maintaining the rinks until the weekend of the tournament.
“The rinks are really in fantastic shape right now,” Taggart said.
The tournament includes play for adults and youths. Divisions begin with the micron level, which is 6 years old, extending through 8U, 10U and 12U. Each youth team includes four players plus a goalie.
The three-on-three-player tournament also encompasses several divisions, including 14U, 16U, 18U and adults. Teams in these divisions have three players plus a goalie. Additionally, players use a full-size hockey net and full goalie equipment.
The tournament also includes special performances of Doug Allen singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at noon Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. In addition, Sabretooth will be in attendance beginning at 2 p.m. both days and members of the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association are also scheduled to attend the event.
Attendees of the tournament will also have opportunities to enter raffle drawings to win Sabres jerseys and other sports memorabilia. The Rose Garden will also feature a heated outdoor bar.
Volunteer opportunities, including assistance at the registration booths, score keeping and ice shoveling, are available for youths and adults.