Canisius College and the National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres announced on Tuesday a unique partnership where the school's Golden Griffin hockey program will compete and practice in the newly-constructed HARBORcenter, beginning with the 2014-15 season.
"This is an exciting day for Canisius College," said Canisius College President John J. Hurley. "We make yet another big investment in the city we have called home since 1870 as we join with Terry and Kim Pegula and the Buffalo Sabres to help revitalize Buffalo's downtown, advance the Canalside District and take our championship-hockey program to a whole new level of excellence. It's a tremendous opportunity for our student-athletes, alumni and fans to be part of this world-class facility."
HARBORcenter, which is scheduled to open in September 2014, is a $172 million multipurpose hockey and entertainment complex that will sit directly across from the First Niagara Center in Buffalo's Canalside District. Featured inside the HARBORcenter will be two NHL-size rinks, including a 1,800-seat arena where Canisius will serve as the primary tenant.
The Griffs, Buffalo's only Division I hockey program, will have their own 1,300-square foot state-of-the-art locker room in addition to separate athletic training areas and access to the building's Center of Excellence, a high-performance training facility which is designed specifically for development in the sport of hockey.
The 700,000-square foot structure will be connected to First Niagara Center by a pedestrian bridge that will span Perry Street. HARBORcenter will also feature a hockey-themed sports bar and restaurant, a full-service Marriott hotel, an 850-space parking structure and additional retail space.
"This is an exciting day for our hockey program," said Canisius College head coach Dave Smith. "Partnering with the Buffalo Sabres in a world-class hockey facility further illustrates the commitment to Division I college hockey by Canisius. This top-notch arena will expose fans to a high level of hockey at a number of levels. It will be a tremendous resource with which to recruit, train and develop hockey players. I look forward to the day when a Western New York hockey player competes for the Buffalo Sabres after developing at the HARBORcenter."
"This is a historical day for our hockey program and represents another strong commitment to the growth and importance of intercollegiate athletics at Canisius College," said Canisius College Director of Athletics Bill Maher. "The opportunity to have a world-class facility like the HARBORcenter as our home venue is outstanding and will be a critical piece for Dave Smith and his coaching staff to continue to build a championship-level program. Our goal is always to recruit and develop the best student-athletes we can at Canisius College, and we believe that playing in the HARBORcenter is another important part in realizing this goal."
Canisius, which has sponsored varsity hockey since the 1980-81 season and began competing at the Division I level during the 1998-99 campaign, has played its home games in the 1,800-seat Buffalo State Sports Arena since 1999.
The Griffs compete in the Atlantic Hockey Association and won their first conference championship during the 2012-13 season with a 7-2 victory against Mercyhurst on March 23. Canisius then advanced to its first NCAA Tournament before finishing the season ranked 19th in the final USCHO.com national poll.