A team from — and called — South Buffalo recently earned a spot in the elite division in the third annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament to be held on Lake Erie. South Buffalo defeated Inergex Icemen, 20 to 13, to win the Labatt Blue Winter Classic Outdoor Tournament on New Year’s Day, which subsequently advanced the team to the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament. The defeated Inergex Icemen won the Winter Classic and a trip to the Buffalo event last year. The Time Warner Classic Rink in East Aurora hosted the tournament both years.
“It was a tough tournament. It snowed so hard that at times we lost the puck. The competition was stiff and the game could have gone either way,” said Team Member Ryan Shanahan. “It didn’t matter. When a group of middle-aged guys hit the ice together, it’s a good day. Hockey tournaments keep guys like us playing hard with our friends. No other sport really has the camaraderie and the stamina. Winning just added to the experience.”
On February 27 and 28, 112 teams will compete in approximately 14 divisions in the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament. Players skate on eight man-made rinks, each 150′ long x 75′ deep, constructed using water, shovels, small plows and hay barrels. Teams from all over the region will compete.
According to Labatt Blue Associate Brand Manager, Ryan Daley, the smaller tournaments add to the excitement and competition of the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament. “Our tournament sold out quickly this year. Playing in a feeder tournament allows more teams the chance to earn ice time on Lake Erie,” said Daley. “Competition grows each year as more and more players vie for a chance to play in one of the region’s toughest tournaments.”
The winning South Buffalo team – Dan Goldie, Brandon Block, Marc Tuzzalo, Ryan Shanahan, Lucian Forcucci and Telly Forcucci – grew up in the area playing near Cazenovia Park. “We never played ice hockey outdoors because we were lucky enough to have the Caz rink nearby,” said Shanahan. “It was more about getting the guys together and just having fun. Now we keep those memories going through tournaments like Labatt Blue Pond Hockey.”
“We’re excited to have South Buffalo represented in the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament and want to congratulate the team on their victory,” said Daley. “We’re hoping they bring their best stuff to the ice on Lake Erie.”
Image: Rimas Musteikis, 2009