BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Starting this fall, 18 members of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres will be enrolled at St. Mary’s, thanks to a new partnership between the organization and the school.

“Early on here when the Junior Sabres started, we were able to have a number of their students attend school here and then also do the Junior Sabres program, but as things developed, there became the opportunity to do this new academy setting,” St. Mary’s Head of School Kevin Kelleher said. “Here at St. Mary’s, as far as my philosophy goes and my philosophy goes, if we can help young kids and families attain their goal, if we can work out a schedule and arrange it for them to have the ultimate success, then we’d be silly not to try it. Having a partnership with the Junior Sabres is absolutely fantastic.”

“Having St. Mary’s, a great school, be a part of the Junior Sabres program is something that ultimately we strive for,” President of Buffalo Junior Sabres Patrick Kaleta said. “We share the same goals, we share the same qualities of excitement and energy. We want the kids to have the best possible opportunity to them. My job is to not only build good hockey players, but to build good people.”

Aiming to give the Junior Sabres a more well-rounded schedule, as well as a top-notch education, the players will attend St. Mary’s from 7:30 am to 1 pm, then head to the HarborCenter for on and off ice training in an academy-like setting.

The Junior Sabres will also be St. Mary’s students through and through, and they have the opportunity to participate in all of the extracurriculars, dances, and sports that St. Mary’s has to offer.

“I went to three different high schools, moved away to Canada, went to high schools all over the place so I never was really embedded in a school. For me, that’s important,” Kaleta said. “I want my boys to participate in dances, and with the opportunity to have someone backing them in the school, pushing them and helping them get to where they want to go.

“On top of that, on our end where we have the Academy of Hockey, we have Impact, we have a great facility at the HarborCenter to help them out with what they’re best at right now, so you mesh that all into a big ball and have hopefully a good person, as well as a good hockey player.”

“I do want them to feel a part of that, not just be isolated on an island because they’re the Junior Sabres guys, so to bring them into the mix and get them experiencing everything we offer here is a major goal of the initiative and is something we’re excited about,” Kelleher said.