The Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association, in their ongoing commitment to youth hockey in Western New York, today announced they will be buying and assuming control of the Buffalo Junior Sabres. The Jr. Sabres are the only U.S.-based team that participates in the Ontario Provincial Junior “A” Hockey League (OPJHL). The OPJHL is scouted heavily by Division I U.S. colleges, and players in the league are annually offered scholarships to play at these institutions of higher education.
“The Buffalo Sabres strongly believe in continuing to promote youth hockey programs throughout Western New York,” stated Buffalo Sabres Owner, B. Thomas Golisano. “The Buffalo Jr. Sabres gives these players the ability to develop their talent locally against the highest level of competition.”
The team had been operated by Chuck Giambra since 1987 and offers a home for local hockey players who excel and want to further their careers. The Buffalo Sabres see the value of supporting this team and have committed to allowing the team to use the HSBC Arena when available for both practices and games.
Larry Playfair will be team president, and Grant Ledyard will remain as the team’s general manager and head coach. Last year was Ledyard’s first behind the bench and Buffalo finished with a record of 15-30-4 (34 pts.), good for eighth place in the OPJHL’s highly-competitive West Division. This was an 11-point improvement over the team’s 9-35-5 (23 pts.) record in 2006-07.
“We are very excited to partner with the Buffalo Sabres. Our involvement will help solidify the financial stability of the team and give some of the local boys in the Buffalo-Rochester corridor a viable home to enhance their careers,” said Playfair. “Chuck Giambra should be applauded for what he has done. He has been able to keep an asset in our community for the past 21 years.”
The team has also been a launching pad to an NHL career for several former players. These players include: Brian Gionta (New Jersey Devils); Lee Stempniak (St. Louis Blues); Kevyn Adams (Chicago Blackhawks); Aaron Miller (Vancouver Canucks); Todd Marchant (Anaheim Mighty Ducks); Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers); Jeff Farkas (Atlanta Thrashers).
Recently, Jr. Sabres alum Kyle Rogers signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs immediately after completing four years with the Niagara University Purple Eagles. Rogers is currently playing with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Jr. Sabres will be holding a two-day Evaluation Camp for the 2008-09 roster on May 17-18 at the Amherst Pepsi Center. All participants must pre-register using the forms that are available for download at www.buffalojrsabres.org. The cost for the camp is $50 per player; $25 for goaltenders and returning players. Eligible players must have been born in 1988-92. Space is limited so please register early.
Since the inception of the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association 20 years ago, they have helped 57 local students with scholarships for their higher education. The Alumni has donated over $700,000 back to the community through gifts to hospitals and charities. Over those 20 years, the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association has helped numerous other groups raise funds for their charities by participating in hockey, basketball, golf tournaments and hockey games as well as donating their time and various other functions.
1975-1986: known as the Buffalo Junior Sabres
1987-1999: known as the Niagara Scenic Hockey Club
1999-2005: known as the Buffalo Lightning Hockey Club
2005-present: known as the Buffalo Junior Sabres