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Despite snowstorm, hockey players pack Bill Gray’s rink for tournament

Local News

Despite the inclimate weather, more than 2,500 hockey players and family members came out for the Empire State Cup on Sunday. The annual event, which is put on by MyHockey Tournaments, runs until Monday, with the Bill Gray’s Regional IcePlex hosting. And even with the weather, the rink was full.

62 youth teams competed, with 50 of those teams coming in from Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, New Jersey, Delaware and Ontario, Canada. Most were already in the area when the storm hit, like this coach and his team from Michigan.

“The snow was up to our grills, and so they were all out there for a good half hour just trying to get out of the parking lot,” said Nick Betz, coach.

Even with the weather conditions, we were told by seven Sunday morning, this parking lot was full of cars and people making their way towards the arena. For those braving the elements, this storm, and hockey culture, were actually a good combination.

“Yeah, usually with hockey families, you got hockey, you’re coming for the tournaments or the games,” explained Matthew Wiza, parent.

“Hockey people are just going to keep going. There’s no doubt about it, they’re not going to die, you know?” adds Steve Ruef.

For those on the ice, the weather was an afterthought. Some team members from Buffalo’s Amherst Knights shared their favorite aspects of the game and this tournament.

“You watch the Buffalo Sabers on the ice, and you actually get to do that with your friends,” one player said. “Hockey’s just a fun sport and you get to hang out with your friends.”

“It’s fast-paced and we’re always playing.”

“Hockey, it’s just fun because you get to play with your friends and you’re with your line and it’s just fun to hang  out with everyone.”

For one female player from Michigan, she largely echoed the main points the guys made…but she had one complaint about often times being the only girl on the ice.

“It’s lonely,” said Allie Majer, Wolves Hockey Player.

The Empire State Cup is expected to provide an economic boom in the Rochester region, adding anywhere from $425,000 to $625,000 to the local community.

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