AMHERST, N.Y.- Buffalo has a national hockey spotlight on it, but this time it’s because of the Sabres. USA hockey has come to Western New York for a boys’ select 16 player development camp. The camp started on July 7th and runs until the 13th at the Northtown Center in Amherst.
Throughout the six day camp, ten teams composed of 18, 16 and under, players from all over the country will play against each other as well as practice among their teams. This is an invitation only camp, composed of the best players throughout the nation.
Not only does this camp give players work with a national organization, it allows these kids to see the skill level beyond what they’re used to. Justin Forrest, a coach for the Gray U16 team at the camp, explains how these players can make each other better. “A lot of the kids here during the year, they’re not playing against the top competition all the time so we bring all the kids together, see how they perform against each other that are just as good, better than they are and see how they stack up,” Forrest said. “During the year, these kids are the best kids on their team and when they come here it’s a little different. You might not be in that same position and we want to see how they respond to that. It tells us a lot these tournaments,” Forrest pointed out.
Each day throughout the camp has a different schedule for each team. Some days a team may have practice first and then a game or vice versa. But the coaches place more importance on one more than the other. “The games here are weighed more heavily because of the level of competition so we really pay attention to the games and how guys perform in the games and how they respond to the competition which is a big thing,” Forrest explained.
This development camp is important to the area not only for the location of it, but for the players as well. Nine kids from Western New York will compete throughout the six days. Buffalo native Nick Passafiume, plays for Nichols High School and explains how important these next few days are.”First of all I feel very honored to play here, playing against some of the best kids in the country and I think it’s a real test for me to see how I stack up against other kids around the country,” Passafiume explained.
It seems Passafiume’s teammate from Nichols, Carson Gicewicz from Orchard Park agrees. Gicewicz knows what he wants to get out of this camp when it’s all over. “Best case scenario, I would go on to play with team USA full time. That would be the main goal, that’s the goal of this camp the final goal,” Gicewicz said.
This USA player development camp was previously held in Rochester, but then moved to Buffalo this summer for the first time.