The Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament will finally be assured of solid ice.
Obviously integral to pond hockey, the presence of ice has -- due to Mother Nature's quirks -- been wildly inconsistent in previous Buffalo winters. (According to Buffalo Business First, the annual hockey event has suffered from poor conditions in three of the last seven Buffalo tournaments).
If it wasn't for the development of Buffalo RiverWorks, the host of the weekend 4v4 tournament, Labatt USA organizers would be nervous about Saturday's expected high of 32 degrees. As The News reports, play won't be affected due to refrigerated rinks.
This assurance means not just a fair experience for the 144 teams, but family, friends and curious onlookers should be treated to fast-paced local hockey.
1) Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament, noon to 8:30 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Sunday in Buffalo RiverWorks (333 Ganson St.). Teams can no longer register, but spectators can drop by to watch as many as six games (two rinks split into thirds) at once and explore RiverWorks for free.
Comments: A grand-opening of sorts for RiverWorks, the venue will appease fans with three bars serving Labatt Blue and Blue Light, a heated Fan Fest tent with art, games and a photobooth, as well as Pearl Street Grill food. On Saturday, samples of Labatt's new Power Play Lager will be available. Tip: Stop by for night games and take in the scenery (grain elevators, the Buffalo River and that giant Labatt Blue six-pack). [See the graphic below for public parking info, courtesy of RiverWorks' Facebook page.]
Comments: A four-star Broadway touring musical that's only in Buffalo for one weekend shouldn't need much introduction, but critic Colin Dabkowski raved about Terra MacLeod and Bianca Marroquin -- who play roles of Chicago women seeking redemption from a troubled past -- in his glowing review.
3) M.A.G.S.' release party at 8 p.m. Friday in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.). Tickets are $10 cash at the door and include a copy of M.A.G.S.' new EP.
Comments: In his Feb. 10 Buffalo Music Spotlight, Mac McGuire explains how Elliott Douglas found the confidence to write "Cellophane," the title of his release. Despite the confusing and ever-changing world of local bands, give Douglas' solo project -- performed live with a backing band -- a long listen.
4) Caz Tapped at 6 p.m. Saturday in The Church (2325 Seneca St.). Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door.
Comments: South Buffalo will christen a new venue -- The Church -- at Caz Tapped. What was once St. John's RC Church has been transformed into an event center, and a party with live music from Theresa Quinn, Half A Heard and Sugar Spoon, plus food trucks, beer and wine, is scheduled for Saturday. We're told that people from South Buffalo know how to throw a party.
5) Black Squirrel Distillery's grand-opening, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at 1595 Elmwood Ave. Admission is free, and bottles of Black Squirrel's first spirit cost ~$35.
Comments: Other than Lockhouse Distillery and Buffalo Distilling Co., the boom of local spirit producers has lagged behind the growth rate of other trends like food trucks and craft breweries. Say hello to the Black Squirrel -- the origin of the name is both intriguing and haunting -- and try out its first spirit, a rum-like concoction that's born from New York state maple syrup and oak aging.
6) Buffalo Soccer Council's Winter Cup 2015, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Front Park (just off Niagara Street exits of 190). Teams have already been assembled, but the tournament is free to watch.
Comments: Call me a little biased because I'm participating in this 4v4 tournament, but the Buffalo Soccer Council's inaugural Winter Cup -- part of Flurrious! in 2014 -- was such a hit that it will return by popular demand on Saturday (although Flurrious! will not return this winter). The weather will be an extremely temperate ~30 degrees, so if you'd rather watch soccer on snow instead of hockey on ice, it's certainly an option.
7) My Buffalo Shirt, Park Edge Sweet Shoppe's pop-up shop opening party from 6 t0 9 p.m. Friday at 4298 S. Buffalo St., Orchard Park (behind the Kwik-Fill, across the street from OP police station). Attendance is free, and all items are 15 percent off during the party.
Comments: Two local businesses -- t-shirt creators My Buffalo Shirt and dessert specialists Park Edge Sweet Shoppe -- are collaborating on a limited-time pop-up shop from Feb. 23 until April 10. Free chocolate and sponge candy samples, plus free non-alcoholic beverages, are Friday's opening party perks, while C Designs and Illustrations and 1801 Handcrafted are two other businesses taking part in the pop-up.
8) Andrew Sanders' "Riding the NYC Subway" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Art Dialogue Gallery (One Linwood Ave.).
Comments: Late Buffalo artist Andrew Sanders spent the better part of two decades in New York City, where he developed a hobby of sketching people on the subway. Art Dialogue's exhibition boasts 34 pen-and-ink sketches, and it's only on display until March 13. [Read Colin Dabkowski's A Closer Look on Sanders' art.]
9) Southside Saturdays with Betty Crockski, 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday in Southside Athletic Club (444 Elk St.). Prices range depending on the food, and Southside does have a bar.
Comments: A February project that allows Betty Crockski's owners to flex its culinary muscles indoors, Southside Saturdays' menu reflects Polish authenticity -- the event is in a 1940s social club, after all. Judging from the food truck's Tumblr page, cherry poppy tartlettes and Hungarian-style pickled mushrooms, among other items, will be offered.
10) Seven Deadly SINs at 9:30 p.m. Monday in Seabar (475 Ellicott St.). Admission is free, and the public is welcome, although the usual clientele is restaurant workers, chefs, "foodies" and their friends.
Comments: With so much focus on Catholicism during this week -- Ash Wednesday confirms Lent's arrival -- Industry Night (IN) hosts an evening themed around the seven deadly sins. Here's the food and beverage lineup, with lots of mystery.
Avaritia: chef Victor Parra Gonzlaez from Jaguar at the Bistro
Invidia: chef Michael Obarka from Ristorante Lombardo
Superbia: chefs Michael Dimmer and Christian Willmott from Marble + Rye
Ira: Kerry Quaile from Buffalo Proper
Story topics: Andrew Sanders/ Art Dialogue Gallery/ Betty Crockski/ Black Squirrel Distillery/ Buffalo Soccer Council/ Caz Tapped/ chicago/ Elliott Douglas/ IN/ Industry Night/ Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament/ M.A.G.S./ My Buffalo Shirt/ Park Edge Sweet Shoppe/ Shea's Performing Arts Center/ south buffalo/ Southside Saturdays/ Winter Cup