32 Teams to Take the Ice for the Tim Hortons Backyard Classic


Sharpen your skates, tape your sticks, and bundle up! The Tim Hortons Backyard Classic 3 on 3 outdoor ice hockey tournament will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at The Rose Garden Restaurant, 2753 Wehrle Drive, Williamsville.  The tournament is sold-out, causing the tournament staff to create a special ‘Preview to the Classic’ four-team tournament on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 1-4 p.m for Middle School players.


On Sunday, 28 teams will compete in Mite (5-7 year olds), High School and Adult divisions.  The first puck drop will be at 9 a.m. From 12-1 p.m, Buffalo Sabres alumni will serve as guest bartenders and Sabretooth will entertain players and spectators.  Doug Allen will sing the American and Canadian National Anthems at 3:00 p.m to start the playoffs.  Games will be played throughout the day until 6 p.m.


The Backyard Classic was founded in 2008 by East Amherst, NY resident Nicholas Penberthy, currently a sophomore at SUNY Cortland (www.cortland.edu), studying childhood education. For the last four years, the tournament was played on Penberthy’s backyard ice rink, which his family set up each winter at their home.


In 2011, it was expanded to a second Williamsville, NY location hosted by Chris Taggart, who serves as Co-Chair. Taggart contacted Penberthy, a Williamsville North High School graduate, after viewing a news report about the backyard hockey tournament he founded. Taggart felt compelled to assist in coordinating the event to put his backyard rink to use for such a great cause. Last year, the tournament was forced into a street hockey tournament due to the lack of cold weather, making players and tournament officials eager to get back to the ice.


The event was renamed the Tim Hortons Backyard Classic in 2012, thanks to the generous support of Tim Hortons Café & Bake Shop, who continue to be the Platinum Sponsor.


This year with the relocation to The Rose Garden, the tournament has been able to register a record 32 teams who will play on four large outdoor ice rinks.  “This recent cold weather has created much excitement in Western New York as we have seen a spike on our social media pages and website in visitors as well as registrations,” said Penberthy.


The Tim Hortons Backyard Classic has raised over $20,000 for Hasek’s Heroes, an organization founded by NHL great and former Buffalo Sabre Dominik Hasek, which introduces city youth to ice hockey and life skills.  The proceeds from this event will be used to build an educational resource center.


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