History, tradition and culture often breed success. The Buffalo Regals youth hockey organization of New York is a prime example.
“The Regals organization has been a top notch organization for years,” Regals Tier I 14-and-Under youth coach Brian Gasuik said. “I myself played for the Regals and have great memories. We won four state championships, played in three nationals and played with some great hockey players such as Dan McFall, Peter Dudek, Andy Atkinson and had great coaching with Frank Panek.”
The start wasn’t exactly a glamorous one back in 1957 under the original name of Scorpions. The sole team finished in last place in the Junior Division of the now defunct Buffalo Municipal Amateur Hockey League. However, persistence and a name change resulted in a league championship three years later.
The organization grew over the years and became one of the strongest in the East, winning numerous league and state championships at all levels, ages and genders.
“Regals are known for having good coaches and availability for ice,” Gasuik said. “It also helps that it’s affordable. This heritage grows with success at all age levels and is a sure-fire way to be successful."
This year alone, Buffalo Regals youth teams made it to three New York state finals, losing two of them, each in double overtime. The sole winner was the Tier I 14U team, which ho breezed through the competition.
“I was worried going into the state tournament because the week before we played very well and won the SCTA [South-Central Triple A Hockey League] Canadian playoffs,” Gasuik said. “We played six games in three days against the best teams in Canada. We came back the following weekend with a great effort in the state tournament.”
Great effort is an understatement. The team cruised through the round robin, beating Long Island Royals 7-3, West Seneca 5-1, and Clifton Park 11-0. The semifinal round saw their closest game, edging out the Syracuse Nationals 3-2.
“I thought the toughest game was against Syracuse,” Gasuik said. “They are well coached and have players that really gave us a run for our money. We played West Seneca in the final and it seemed they ran out of gas with a great [double overtime] performance against Rochester early Sunday."
The final was a 9-3 victory over Rochester.
Before the state tournament, the 14U team went 32-4-4 to win the league title and had overall record of 63-8-5. It won the Warrior Tournament in Detroit and the Super Series in Buffalo, N.Y.
The key to this year’s success was acquiring the help of the talented coach Darryl Belfry. Gasuik also gave credit to John Fromen for introducing Belfry, who worked with them throughout the year.
“Darryl is an amazing talent that every NHL team should hire,” Gasuik said. “He works with many NHL players such as Patrick Kane, but he has taken the time to run practices and give us the framework of a plan to implement so that our kids were successful. I learned a lot this year from being on the ice with him. I also could not have the success without my coaches Andy Urbank, Matt Ritter, Jeff Sidorski.”
Of course the actual participants and their parents are also a key to all this success.
“This season is the best I ever had in coaching,” Gasuik said. “We have great kids with great parents who sacrifice time and money so that their kids can realize their goals. The off-ice leadership was also a key to this groups’ success.”
Former players coming back to coach, successful programs attracting the best kids, parents willing to dedicate themselves and top-notch coaching consultants giving their time all leads to yet another Buffalo Regals appearance in the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I Youth National Championships.
“Our goal for the nationals is simple,” Gasuik said. “Play your heart out. Respect your opponent. Fear no one. We expect to come back with a national championship.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.