BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Hockey players of all ages are coming together for the 13th Backyard Classic at Canalside, which is kicking off right now. It runs all weekend and raises money for Oishei Children’s Hospital.

Friday marked the first night of the Backyard Classic at Canalside and things are already in full swing.

Kids of all ages are preparing for the games this weekend and showing off their skills in the Youth Skills Competition.

Saturday and Sunday, kids age six and up, as well as adult teams, will play from at 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. All teams are guaranteed at least three games. There are 80 teams this year with a total of about 600 skaters.

This tournament is unique from other pond hockey competitions — playing 3-on-3, using full size nets and goalies, to give the real feel of the game.

This event started 13 years ago in Chris Taggart’s backyard — and he says he never imagined it would be where it is today.

“I’m just looking forward to everybody having a great time and just pulling off a successful event,” said Taggart, the tournament’s director. “We here, we all love our city, right? Buffalo loves its hockey, but we all love our kids more, so what better venue to give back to than Oishei Children’s Hospital that are helping our kids when they absolutely need it the most?”

Taggart said the tournament was based on giving back to charity from the start — and this is their third year working with Oishei. Everyone is welcome to come watch the games which will be going on all day, all weekend — it’s free to get in.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.