Great weather and competitive hockey has made the 27th Annual Lake Shore Savings Bank Hockey Tournament at Steele Hall a huge success this weekend.
After competing at tournaments in larger cities where the hotel and ice rink are several miles apart, Bud Bakewell Bantam coach John Garey was happy to be staying in a small community this weekend.
"This is a bit more friendly," Garey said when comparing the NCCYHA tournament with any other tournament. "Everyone seems more personable. We have been to Cleveland and Pittsburgh and you're on more edge because you don't know where you are. It's not a big place here. It's relaxing knowing you're hotel is 10 minutes from the ice rink. You can't get lost here. The weather has everyone in a great mood."
The weekend was also a little extra special for Garey as he attended Fredonia State University and skated several times at Steele Hall.
"I played on the ice before and it's fun seeing my kid play on the ice," he said.
"For years we have tried to have a friendly atmosphere," he said.
"We get a solid core group that comes back every year. It's a chance to see everyone. The Hamburg Hawks and Buffalo Shamrocks come down in almost every division. We all seem to have a nice rivalry going on here. It's good competitive hockey."
Tournament director Kory Ahlstrom says the annual event is a success because of the familiarity among all the teams as several of the teams come every year.
"For years we have tried to have a friendly atmosphere," he said. "We get a solid core group that comes back every year. It's a chance to see everyone. The Hamburg Hawks and Buffalo Shamrocks come down in almost every division. We all seem to have a nice rivalry going on here. It's good competitive hockey."
Local businesses are also reaping the benefits of the weekend as the Clarion Hotel in Dunkirk has several teams occupying rooms.
"The Clarion is a beautiful hotel right on the water," Buffalo Shamrocks Bantam coach Zack Juliano said. "It's unbelievable. We got some food Friday night and had some great burgers at 41 West. It's a good tournament overall. It's good competition and evenly balanced."
Garey also noted his team has enjoyed meals at Demitris, Tim Horton's, Wing City Grille and Denny's.
"Fredonia is doing a great job putting on a great tournament," Garey concluded. "The weather has been a blessing and everyone is having a nice time."
"For out of town people, this is an opportunity to do what we do where we spend the weekend with the kids in the hotel," Ahlstrom added. "It's a camaraderie building thing. They all like coming here and spending the weekend here. It is a fun, friendly weekend."