FORT ERIE, CANADA (WKBW-TV) - 7am bright and early members of the Buffalo Sabres hit the road and invaded Canada, well at least southern Ontario.
"In years past the team came here because we needed to be here to sell tickets," said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. "We're here today because we want to be here and we want to cultivate the fan relationship that we have with southern Ontario."
And it worked. First stop where else but Tim Horton's. Current and former players passed out coffee, donuts, posed for pictures and signed autographs. Of course it came with challenges.
"We had to teach Ville Leino what a double double was," said Black.
"They were just giving me coffees and I was trying to get the order right and people that didn't see me before and some of the people were like what's going on over here," replied Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres Forward.
The Sabres say southern Ontario makes up roughly 10 to 15 percent of their fan base.
"It really helps to promote the team, gets people excited about the team," said Fort Erie resident Kevin Beam. "I mean how cool is it to have a Buffalo Sabre serve you your coffee in the morning. That's awesome."
After the morning pick-me up, it was off to class. Former Sabres Jay McKee and Danny Gare read to students in grades 1 through 3 at Fort Erie Elementary. One main topic was bullying.
"Bullying is a two-way street," said Black. "It's bad to be bullied and not stand up and say anything about it and it's even worse to be a bully and not have that behavior corrected."
"Right from the very beginning as soon as kindergarten we talk about the kids about working together for team work," said Sherry Storrey, Principal at Fort Erie Elementary. "And having the Sabres here showing us an example of what teamwork can achieve is great."
But after the lesson, it was autograph time.
"To have the opportunity to come see kids, I know if I was their age being a hockey or sports fan it would be a pretty neat thing but to that is a pretty neat feeling for us as well," said former Sabres defenseman Jay McKee.
Of course what really caught the kids attention was Sabretooth.
The teams "invade southern Ontario" tour continues Friday afternoon.