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Sports Illustrated praises Buffalo as 'Hockeytown' USA

With Buffalo winning the right to host the 2018 World Juniors Championships and hoping to welcome the return of the NHL Winter Classic, the national media has been effusive in its praise of the Queen City's rabid support of hockey, extending well beyond the hometown Sabres.

SI.com's Allan Muir is the most recent example, as his Dec. 4 piece heralded the investment and forethought of Sabres owner Terry Pegula -- particularly through the creation of HarborCenter -- in taking the city's hockey fever to level never seen before.

Muir's article points to a history of well-attended tournaments in Buffalo -- the IIHF U-18 Women's World Championships last year, the All-American prospects game, the NHL Combine, among others -- while also noting future possibilities, like U.S. vs. Canada (WJC) outdoors on New Year's Eve, and a Winter Classic at the Ralph the next day between Buffalo (Jack Eichel) and Edmonton (Connor McDavid).

The prospect of the Winter Classic being held in Buffalo on Jan. 1, 2018, should excite Sabres fans. Could it be a Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid tilt? (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News file photo)

The prospect of the Winter Classic being held in Buffalo on Jan. 1, 2018, should excite Sabres fans. Could it be a Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid tilt? (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News file photo)

Sports Illustrated's report isn't the first national voice to heap compliments upon Buffalo hockey; NHL.com's Joe Yerdon spoke to several NHL general managers in June after the conclusion of the NHL Combine, and several gave rave reviews.

"...Now with this new facility [HarborCenter], it's a great opportunity to show people what this is like," Devils GM Ray Shero told Yerdon. "They put a lot of time and effort into this, and certainly money, but for the kids and the staff this whole week has been really, really good."

For Pegula and the Sabres, the cliche "if you build it, they will come" seems to be working flawlessly.

Further reading:

*The financial breakdown of HarborCenter, after completion
*Report from HarborCenter's opening in October 2014
*What HarborCenter means for youth hockey in Buffalo
*A 90-image gallery from the 2008 Winter Classic at the Ralph
*Harrington: Sabres react to World Juniors announcement
*A look at how Buffalo business was affected by the 2011 World Juniors

Email Ben Tsujimoto at btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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