By Thomas Baldwin
Once again, the Niagara University campus is the scene of an important hockey event.
And it isn’t a Purple Eagles game.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Buffalo Sabres are holding their development camp at Dwyer Arena, which comes just a few months after the World Junior Championships visited Niagara.
“I am proud of the way Niagara University and the entire community welcomes the Sabres to our campus every summer,” said Niagara hockey coach Dave Burkholder. “And, I am proud of how our facilities provide for the very important week of developing future Sabres.”
Clearly, the NU community is focused on providing the Sabres with the best experience possible.
“We do take it seriously,” said JonJay Stockslader, the Director of Continuing Education at Niagara, of the Sabres holding their camp here. “It is probably one of the best events we run all summer, along with all of our other conferences. But this one brings in a great partnership with the Sabres.
“We have the arena (for the Sabres prospects and personnel), and the rest of the campus, which has the housing, the food service and additional classrooms at this beautiful campus.”
According the Stockslader, having the Sabres set up camp here for a week is great in terms of public relations for the university.
“It is great to be associated with a top level organization like the Sabres,” he said. “And now with the new (Sabres) ownership, there is a lot of momentum. Not only for the Sabres, but also for Niagara University. We have some great programs going on here, and this is just one of many examples.”
While Niagara is a beneficiary of this current setup, the Sabres are as well. The logistical nightmares of transporting players, coaches, trainers and staff from a hotel to HSBC Arena or the Northtown Center in Amherst and then back again no longer exist.
The Buffalo prospects are housed in the suite style apartments literally yards from the rink. The club also has access to film and meeting rooms all within a short walk of each other. The contingent sleeps, eats and stays together in very close proximity all week.
“It is a full service operation,” Stockslader said. “We are able to provide them with ice, apartments, film rooms to chalk talk and areas they are able to utilize. They get to spend the maximum amount of time with their players, instead of having to do transportation.
“We pride ourselves on being excellent at what we do, and we provide them with an excellent experience. We have a beautiful partnership. We have the best ice and the best arena in Western New York, we think, besides HSBC Arena.”