Paul Buczkowski understands what it means to have a busy young family in Saskatoon, especially when athletics are a central family focus. The Buczkowskis are a typical hockey-loving family—Paul and his wife first met on a bus on their way to a Midget AAA tournament, and all four of their children (ages 6-13) have a passion for the sport.
“Ever since I was little, I wanted to play in the NHL,” he says. “Watching Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night and going to the rink trying to duplicate what I saw on TV was what I did as a kid.”
A coach and parent, Buczkowski often sees first-hand the life skills that hockey provides children.
“There are many ups and downs in the sport and playing teaches kids to deal with difficult situations and learn to adapt to their surroundings. They meet new friends at the rink and these friendships are ones that last a lifetime.”
But finding time to enjoy the game isn’t always easy. On an average day, the family dedicates countless hours so their kids can enjoy the sport, travelling from Saskatoon to numerous rural locations in Saskatchewan strictly for practise. The lack of ice time in Saskatoon means that the family must endure a punishing schedule of early mornings and late nights on the highway.
The construction of Merlis Belsher Place will bring the game closer to home.
The modern, twin-pad ice facility will support families like the Buczkowskis with an additional 1,500 hours of ice time within the city limits, decreasing travel time and providing the community with more time to enjoy the game.
“This project will enable us to spend more time with family and friends and give the kids an opportunity to do what kids do best: play with friends and family. Friendships grow great communities and great communities are where people want to live,” Buczkowski says.