by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 3:38 pm, April 16, 2014
Fans in south central part of New York State have endured their own version of “suffering”, as their Elmira Jackals of the East Coast Hockey League have fallen to the bottom of their league standings this year, just two years removed from being at the top of the ECHL under their then Craig Rivet led squad.
Today the Buffalo Sabres announced that they have signed an affiliation agreement with Elmira as their lower level minor league affiliate. The Jackals, who began play in 2000 in the United Hockey League before moving to the ECHL, play at the 4000 seat First Arena in downtown Elmira. The venue is located approximately 140 miles from Buffalo, and with this move, all Sabres prospects will be housed within easy driving distance.
In a press release issued by the Sabres, team General Manager Tim Murray stated, “Proper development is essential in maintaining a competitive roster at the NHL level. Having Elmira as an additional source to develop our young talent will certainly help our entire organization going forward. We’re proud to have the Jackals as part of our organization and, with the Amerks in Rochester, we now have the added bonus of working with minor-league affiliates that are no further than 150 miles from Buffalo.”
For the Sabres, additional marketing synergies can certainly be found in Elmira, where they passionately embrace the sport of hockey, not only via the Jackals, but also the NCAA Division III Elmira College Soaring Eagles hockey program. The Jackals have changed ownership just recently, and Buffalo is the closest NHL team geographically to the “Twin Tiers” area of Corning and Elmira. On any given night at a Jackals game, abundant Sabres jerseys can be easily spotted, sprinkled throughout the stands at First Arena.
The East Coast Hockey League is the premier “AA” minor league of hockey with many affiliation agreements with parent NHL teams. With the Sabres presence in both Rochester and now Elmira, this news bodes well for the organization and their fans throughout upstate New York.