A Brief History of Our Rinks...
Leisure Rinks is the only "private" ice rink built in Western New York that has operated continuously since inception. Every other rink, both Private and Non-Profit has closed or gone through bankruptcy. Leisure Rinks was built in 1973 and opened in late 1973 at a time when there were 22 Ice Rinks in the planning stages to be built in Western New York. Only 2 were successfully completed. Leisure Rinks and the former Sabreland on Niagara Falls Blvd. (now known as Hockey Outlet).
At one time numerous amateur Hockey associations operated out of these 2 arenas including Alden, Clarence, The Buffalo Swords, Lovejoy, Dusty's Rovers, Northtowns, Buffalo Regals, Buffalo Hornets as well as District V which ran 43 youth hockey teams out of Leisure Rinks. The only 3 still surviving groups from that time are the Buffalo Regals, the Buffalo Hornets and South Buffalo Hockey.
Leisure Rinks also was the home of the Buffalo Sabres hockey school, which ran for 8 weeks each year in the mid 1970's. At its peak the school hosted more than 900 students and featured such instructors as Rene Robert, Richard Martin, Don Luce and Director and Buffalo Sabre Captain Gerry Meehan among others. Leisure was also where the Buffalo Sabres practiced for more than 8 years...(The original practice facility of the Sabres was Holiday Twin Rinks.)
Leisure was also the birthplace of the West Seneca Cougars JR "B" team which competed in the now defunct Thruway League. The Cougars were the best hockey players in the Junior Age group in Western New York and had an average attendance of between 800 - 1200 per game. The original Cougars team was lead by the famous "Tom - Tom" line composed of Tom Metzger & which dominated the league the years they were together. The Cougars then evolved into the Buffalo Jr. Sabres who played for a time at Holiday Twin Rinks. This team evolved into the Niagara Scenics and is now known as the Lightning JR "A" team, which currently competes in the League.
Holiday Twin Rinks was constructed in 1971 during the fevered excitement of the Buffalo Sabres newly announced NHL expansion franchise. The Arena struggled in its early years and was forced into bankruptcy in 1974 . The rink was then taken over and operated by Marine Midland Bank for one year and was eventually sold to the partnership that had built and operated Leisure Rinks successfully for 3 years. At the time of construction Holiday was the largest ice rink facility in Western New York.
The centralized location of Holiday Twin Rinks helped it to earn a reputation as an excellent "BIG GAME" venue. Over the years Holiday has been the home rink of the Division I UB Bulls team, the Canisius College Golden Griffins, many top High Schools and the Buffalo JR Sabres...where crowds regularly approached 1500 spectators per game. Holiday was also the original Practice facility for the NHL Buffalo Sabres.
Holiday Twin Rinks is now the home rink of the Buffalo Regals local youth hockey association which was founded by Bob Westphal in 1955 and is one of the oldest surviving groups in the United States. The Regals have developed into one of the finest amateur hockey associations in the country and have won numerous state and National championships and have seen many of there skaters develop into NHL quality players, including Aaron Miller, Adams, Dan McFall, Brooks Orpik and Bob Beers among others....The Rink is also the Home of the Buffalo Hornets hockey association which currently operates 30 teams and hosts numerous amateur hockey tournaments.
In 1976 the PEPSI TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS (now known as the Pepsi Hockey Invitational) found a home at Holiday and Leisure Rinks. A collaboration between the rinks and the Pastor family, owners of the local Buffalo Pepsi-Cola bottling corporation, the tournament started with a total entry of 12 local house league teams. The Pepsi tournament has since grown into one of the largest youth hockey gatherings in the United States as well as the largest annual Convention in the Buffalo Area. The 35th anniversary edition will be held in 2011 and will hosted more than 270 teams from all over the US and Canada and will place more than 5000 families in area hotels during their tournament weekend.
Both Holiday and Leisure have always been a terrific place to learn how to skate and play hockey. Our Beginner programs and Spring House League are as old as we are and have been instrumental in getting thousands of players into the great game of ice hockey. In fact current NHL players are just a few of the many that have come up through the ranks. And who knows, maybe you yourself learned to skate in one of the Beginner Clinics taught by John McFall Sr. (pictured at right) and his staff of instructors, I know I did.
Over time Holiday & Leisure have gone through many major renovations and cosmetic changes, which have helped to maintain its competitive edge among the high Tax-dollar Government Rinks that have been built in our area. We plan on continuing to add to the history and success of our rinks and hope you have enjoyed this Brief history of how we got where we are.
At left is a picture of our Grandfather and 3 of our Grand Uncles who played for the Buffalo Eagles in 1928. This was one of the 1st Semi-Pro teams to play in New York State. This picture was taken at the Humboldt Park outdoor rink.
The 1st Municipal Hockey Game ever played in Buffalo also featured the Buffalo Eagles. It was played in 1927 at Humboldt and had more than 5000 spectators in attendance.