INVADE CANADA: DAY 1 BLOG
Sabres.com is tagging along with the blue and gold as they invade Canada!
|Ville Leino (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
8:07 a.m. – The first stop on our tour was at the Tim Hortons on Garrison Road in Fort Erie. We arrived just after 7:30 a.m. and the boys got put to work promptly at 8 o’clock! Jay McKee served up the donuts and worked the cash register at front of the store, while Ville Leino greeted customers at the drive thru. It must’ve been quite a surprise for the people at the drive thru as Ville handed them a coffee and told them to have a wonderful morning!
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“It’s nice that it’s so close to Buffalo here because people are Sabres fans as well,” said Leino. “And it’s a good thing that Tim Hortons is kind of a hockey place too.”
Ted Black and Harry Neale learned the ins and outs of the bagel process while enjoying their own coffees, and Sabretooth greeted customers as they came in. Ted said this trip served a different purpose than it might have in previous years.
“In years past the Sabres would come here because they needed to be here, to sell tickets - to sell season tickets in particular,” he explained. “Now we’re here because we really want to be here. This is part of our footprint, part of our territory, and it’s a big part of our fan base. We need to engage these folks because they are Sabres fans. This is part of Sabre Nation.”
9:07 a.m. – We had a blast meeting everyone at Tim Hortons! There were so many great Sabres fans and we definitely surprised a lot of customers. Overall it was a successful start to our morning. We just hopped in the car and are now on the way to Fort Erie Elementary School.
|Sabretooth (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
9:33 a.m. – The next stop for the Sabres Caravan was Fort Erie Elementary, just a slapshot away from Tim Hortons on Central Ave. We received a warm welcome from the school, and even principal Sherry Storrey-Perchaluk was wearing a Sabres jersey. But this shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone that knows her.
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“I’m a Sabres fan. I’ve been a season ticket holder for several years,” said Storrey-Perchaluk. “We love the excitement of going to watch the games, and I also have two daughters that play hockey. Hockey is really a big part of our family. We love to watch Sabres games and be part of the atmosphere at the arena.”
Jay McKee started off this visit by reading “The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark.” Danny Gare followed that up by entertaining the kids with a reading “Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet.” After that it was question and answer session, with questions ranging “what’s your favorite color?” to “how many goals did you score?” As a defenseman McKee passed that question off to Gare, who shocked the kids by letting them know he scored 354! Sabretooth surprised and excited the crowd of students by popping into the library after the reading and questions. All the kids greated him with a huge hug; that Tooth is such a crowd pleaser. As our visit came to an end, all the students started chanting “Let’s Go Buffalo!”
|Old Bank Bistro (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
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After mingling with our guests we played a short video of the Sabres history. Sabres president Ted Black spoke briefly about fostering the already strong relationship between the Sabres and their fans of Southern Ontario, and working to build a larger fan base in the region.
The highlight of the lunch was most definitely Harry Neale, who entertained the crowd with stories of his legendary career. Neale talked about his coaching experiences with Gordie Howe and mixed in a few jokes along the way. He ended his speech with a moving statement about the work he’s done with the Sabres and how it’s been the highlight of his life.
We had a great day in Fort Erie. Now it’s time to load up the caravan and head up the QEW. Next stop: Stoney Creek!
|Neal, Black, McKee (Photo: Sabres.com)|
Next we stopped by the gym to see the 7th and 8th graders and had a panel type discussion. Ted, Harry and Jay answered questions from the students. The main topic was about respect for yourself and others but other questions were about determination and dedication whether it's in schools and sports.
This group enjoyed getting autographs from McKee, Neale and Sabretooth.
4:31 p.m. - We visited first, second, seventh and eighth graders today. In the first group Jay McKee read to the kids, then answered a series of questions that included ones like “is hockey like soccer on ice?”
Next we stopped by the gym to see the seventh and eighth graders, and had a panel-type discussion. Ted, Harry and Jay answered questions from the students. The main topic was about respect for yourself and others but other questions were about determination and dedication whether it's in schools and sports. This group enjoyed getting autographs from McKee, Neale and Sabretooth.
8:18 p.m. – Overall, it was a successful and very busy Day One of our “Invade Canada” tour. We really enjoyed meeting new and interesting people throughout the day. It was a lot of fun to see the excitement on the kids faces when we visited the schools, and the surprise at Tim Hortons. Really looking forward to Friday’s panel discussion at Brock University, along with the Brock Hockey Camp where we’ll be joined by Cody Hodgson and Jay McKee.