Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Backyard Classic Showcases Young Hockey Talent

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Buffalo: Backyard Classic Showcases Young Hockey Talent
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Hockey players young and old hit the ice for this year's Tim Hortons Backyard Classic.

As YNN's Kate McGowan explains, it started off years ago as a backyard tournament and has grown into a community wide event.

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- With four ice rinks, and close to 150 players of all ages, the competition was on at the Tim Horton's Backyard Classic.

Event founder, Nick Penberthy exclaimed, "It shows that Buffalo is hockey heaven!"

Penberthy said five years ago, it began as a small tournament in his backyard, with just twelve players and over time, has evolved into an event many look forward to each year.

"I mean, it really speaks to how much we love hockey," explained Penberthy. "I mean this and a grassroots effort and it's grown so much just through our own connections we have."

It's a lot of fun for the players but of course this day benefits a great cause, as all proceeds go to Hasek's Heroes, which ensures that all children can play hockey.

"This year, we're going to be creating an educational resource room in the Cazenovia Ice Rink so we're hoping to raise $15,000 for that effort. And that can be used by the Hasek's Heroes kids and South Buffalo community," expressed Penberthy.

Former Sabres player, Derek Smith said, "Hockey is an expensive sport when you start buying all the equipment and even skates these days, I don't even want to buy a pair myself. So it's great that they get that supplied."

The tournament was rescheduled from earlier in January because of warm weather. Those out watching the games Sunday said they couldn't have asked for a better day.

"It's a gorgeous day. It's just cold enough to keep the ice frozen and warm enough so everyone is not freezing," exclaimed a spectator.

"The ice helps a lot. That's what really makes all these teams show up," an organizer said.

And who knows. Some said one day, we may see these young players on the ice for the NHL.

"If it's fun, they'll keep doing it. And if they keep doing it, they'll get better at it," Smith remarked.

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