The Buffalo Jr. Sabres Youth Hockey Organization announced a partnership with the Academy of Hockey to enhance the organization's standing as one of the elite youth hockey organizations in the U.S.
Academy Director Kevyn Adams was named president of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres organization and will be in charge of all aspects of the youth organization on a day-to-day basis. Larry Playfair will continue to serve as chairman of the Jr. Sabres board of directors. In addition, the Buffalo Jr. Sabres will expand to the squirt level, with teams serving the 9U and 10U age groups for the 2016-2017 season.
At the 20U level, Playfair will continue to serve as the president and governor of the organization's Junior-A Ontario Junior Hockey League club. Michael Peca takes on the role of alternate governor. John Tucker, current head coach of the OJHL 20U team, has also been named general manager, and Charlie Mendola has been named assistant general manager.
"In just two years, we have grown from a one team operation into a premier, 10 team developmental youth hockey organization that serves all age levels," Playfair said. "As our organization continues to grow, it is time to take full advantage of our location at HARBORCENTER and incorporate the Academy of Hockey's world-class coaching and developmental programs. We have quickly established ourselves as a premier organization in New York state and fully expect our organization to grow to new heights under Kevyn's leadership."
Currently, four of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres AAA teams are ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. according to myhockeyrankings.com, and the other three are ranked in the top 25 of the national rankings. The only youth organizations in the country to have more top 10 ranked teams are the Chicago Mission (five) and Detroit Little Caesars (six). In addition, the 20U Jr. A team is currently first in its conference and second in the entire 22-team Ontario Junior Hockey League with 55 points.
The Jr. Sabres partnership with the Academy of Hockey is designed to elevate the development of players within the organization and maximize each athlete's individual potential. Under the academy's guidance, each Junior Sabres team will see its average ice schedule grow to three weekday practices, along with weekend games. Each team's weekly schedule will now include a skill development session, conducted by the academy's highly experienced coaching staff.
Academy skill development sessions incorporate the organization's "deep practice" philosophy, with a 360-degree holistic approach that's focused on skill progression and innovation with a coach-to-player ratio that further advances development through relationship-based experience.
All teams of the Jr. Sabres organization will also expand their involvement with IMPACT Sports Performance, working more closely with the facility's highly educated staff to receive greater hockey-specific off-ice training. Additionally, teams will increase their video education with expanded use of HARBORCENTER's state-of-the-art theater, where they will break down game film on a weekly basis.
This partnership and enhanced program should help attract the top players from the area and beyond, which can only strengthen the organization as a whole.
"I am very excited to extend the Academy of Hockey philosophy to the Junior Sabres organization," Adams said. "Our goal is to accelerate the development of these young players, helping them to reach their highest potential. We fully recognize the recent advancements of the Junior Sabres organization and will work diligently to enhance the development process, which can take those successes to the next level. A structured curriculum and focused development progression are keys to long-term success and our staff looks forward to the opportunity to work with these players on a consistent basis.
"This partnership will not impact our traditional Academy of Hockey development programs. We will continue to serve players from Western New York, Southern Ontario and beyond during our in-season, spring and summer programs."
Complete information on the Buffalo Jr. Sabres 2016-17 season, including coaching assignments, player costs and tryout information, will be available in the coming weeks.