There will be 51 youth hockey teams in Western New York this weekend hoping to turn state title dreams into reality, while 13 girls’ teams hit the road hoping to do the same.
The New York State Amateur Hockey Association Tournaments for boys in the 12-and-under and 14-and-under age groups will begin Friday morning at 6 at Northtown Center at Amherst with two area teams receiving the early wake-up call (Niagara County vs. Tri-Town 12-under and Genesee-Batavia vs. Cortland 12-under).
The tournament at the four-rink facility runs through early Sunday night and admission is free.
Amherst Youth Hockey is the official host as the state will conduct all its boys hockey championships at one “Super Site” this season instead of scattering the tournaments throughout New York. The 16-and-under and 18-and-under tournaments take center stage at the facility March 15-17.
On Friday, the Lady Byng, Norris and Calder trophies will be on display in the lobby of Northtown Center from noon to 6 p.m. for fans interested in taking photos.
On Saturday, the Buffalo Bisons’ girls 19-under team will host a three-team state tournament at North Buffalo Rink on Tacoma Avenue.
The Bisons (28-10-1), ranked ninth nationally, face Rochester at 8 a.m. and Troy-Albany at 2 p.m. in the one-day, round-robin format tournament. Rochester and Troy close out the action at 8 p.m. with the team compiling the most points earning the state’s bid to the national tournament. Each team receives two points for a win, one for a tie and none for losses.
Champions in the 14-under, 16-under and 18-under (19-under for girls) divisions advance to the USA Hockey Tournament, which begins at different sites across the country April 3. The 12-and-under champions’ seasons come to an end this weekend.
Western New York is guaranteed representation at the USA Hockey tourney as the Bisons’ girls 16-under team has already been crowned state champion at Tier I.
Area teams looking to join them at nationals who will compete at Northtown Center include:
12-under – Amherst (Tier I), West Seneca (Tier I), Buffalo Regals (Tier I), Clarence (Tier II), Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles (Tier II), Niagara County (Tier III) and Genesee-Batavia (Tier III).
14-under – Hamburg (Tier I), Buffalo Saints (Tier I), Wheatfield (Tier I), Buffalo Regals (Tier I), Cheektowaga (Tier II), East Aurora (Tier III), Olean (Tier III).
Girls state qualifiers include:
12-under – Bisons (Tier I), West Seneca (Tier II), Hamburg (Tier II), Amherst (Tier II).
14-under – Bisons (Tier I), Buffalo Regals (Tier II), Hamburg (Tier II), West Seneca (Tier II).
16-under – Buffalo Regals (Tier II), Buffalo Hornets (Tier II).
19-under – Buffalo Hornets (Tier II), West Seneca (Tier II), Cazenovia (Tier II).
Around the boards
• The Buffalo Sabres announced the Ninth Annual Scotty Bowman Showcase consisting of three all-star games between top Buffalo and Rochester area players will take place April 15 at First Niagara Center. High School juniors and seniors play in the first two games while the third game pits prep-level and junior-level players against each other. The tripleheader begins at 6 p.m. Rosters will be announced down the road.
• The Buffalo Stars Pee Wee Minor team won the March Classic last weekend at Leisure Rinks hosted by the Southtown Stars. Buffalo, which went 3-1-1, beat Southtown (Bernard) 3-2 in the final as team captain Michael Naples earned MVP honors.