This Friday, January 13th is the start of the fourth North American Championship (The Cup). The North American Championship is a hockey tournament that takes place over the Martin Luther King weekend. The tournament founder, Richard Zacher, hopes that with the help and support of the Western New York community this will become Buffalo’s version of a “Silver Stick” or “Golden Horseshoe” tournament – both are prestigious and long running competitive youth hockey events in Canada.
The tournament was founded in 2013, and the first event was in January of 2014. What started as a round robin weekend between two teams turned into a tournament hosting 36 teams in two age groups. This event then grew much larger and the next year they expanded to 96 teams, including one coming all the way from Russia. This year Buffalo is hosting 163 teams in 6 different age groups.
This year Buffalo is hosting 163 teams in 6 different age groups.
Buffalo is a really great spot geographically for the tournament. The Tournament Team Coordinator lives in Toronto, which is where some of the best youth hockey teams call home. Buffalo’s close proximity to Toronto gives some of the top ranked US youth teams a chance to play against some of Canada’s top ranked youth teams, which makes for some really good hockey. It is also great for businesses in the greater Buffalo area. This year’s event will bring nearly 6000 people to Buffalo for the weekend. Visit Buffalo Niagara (VBN) estimates that each visitor represents about a $1,000 investment in the community. Using their numbers, this tournament brings in about $6 million to Western New York in hotel and restaurant expenditures. The tournament teams fill up almost every room in the Greater Buffalo area. It is great for local hockey rinks as well due to the number of teams playing they. The games are being played at rinks all over Western New York. Zacher credits the local hockey organizations for allowing them to utilize the rinks and for making the tournament as big as it is.
Zacher hopes to keep the tournament in the Buffalo area if possible, but it might be a little difficult. “It does require cooperation among the various Towns and Hockey organizations, which have been stretched this year by The Cup’s final expansion to 6 age groups, but I remain hopeful that Buffalo’s “can do” attitude and enthusiasm for helping the area’s economy in the middle of winter will help open new rinks and new partnerships to assure Western New York can continue hosting this prestigious hockey event that brings the Continent to Buffalo.”
Zacher is most excited about the high quality of play. He is also excited about Buffalo being discovered by new visitors and “hearing people rave about all of our region’s attributes that we all know and love.” And we are looking forward to those things too.
To learn more about the cup and maybe catch a game, here is the website.
- Thursday January 12, 2017
- 5:00PM – 9:00PM
- Riverworks 359 Ganson St Buffalo
- FREE Admission
- Open to all Players, Families and Coaches
Tournament wraps up January 15, 2017