Williamsville plays host to 58 USA Sled Hockey team hopefuls

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It’s become pretty obvious to the town of Amherst that sled hockey is a quickly growing sport.

At least that’s how Norm Page feels, the Regional Sled Hockey Director for USA Hockey.

The USA National Sled Hockey team is hosting tryouts on July 14 and 15, welcoming 58 players from across the country, to fill only 4 vacant spots on the 2018-19 team.

And just as a reminder, those players would be joining a team who just won gold medals in PyeongChang earlier this year.

It’s a far cry from Page’s earliest memories of these same tryouts, which started 7 years ago at the Northtown Center.

“I used to know every kid that was in the program, now there’s so many, it’s unbelievable,” said Page, who said this year’s tryout includes players from California, Florida, Texas, and Montana. “The programs have grown well over 100 across the country and you know, to have it here in Western New York, I think it’s amazing to have Western New York see these athletes at this level, at any level.”

The mounting popularity only adds to the town’s continued talk about plans for a new hotel near Northtown Center.

The hotel itself would be equipped with fully accessible rooms, but Uniland Development, which is developing the hotel, is asking for $1.2 million in tax breaks for the project.

Just one week before the tryouts, the people of Amherst voiced their opinions on the issue, as the Industrial Development Agency weighs whether or not the hotel would create a boost in tourism to warrant the tax breaks.

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Town officials want those answers too.

“I certainly want U.S. Sled Hockey to come here,” said Amherst Town Supervisor, Brian Kulpa. “The people who run our rec. department – they have a commitment to excellence here; They want U.S. Sled Hockey to come here. So we’re trying to work with all parties to see if we can get that to happen.”

© 2018 WGRZ

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