The year was 2003, when then freshman Thomas Vanek scored a game winning goal in overtime to beat Michigan in the semifinal and then scored another game winning goal two days later in a 5-1 victory over New Hampshire to win the National Championship. That was also the last time that Buffalo hosted any sort of regional or Frozen Four for NCAA hockey.
Fast forward to now and the college hockey footprint in Buffalo hasn't gotten any bigger since 2003. There are two Division I schools in the Western New York area, Canisius and Niagara Universities, both of which have had relatively little success in the grand scheme of the game. The Frozen Four sites have been selected through 2015, but should Buffalo at least make a bid for a regional. The reviews of that Frozen Four in 2003 were relatively good and the feasibility of holding such an event in Buffalo is not doubted. The question is whether holding a regional in Buffalo would make pure economical sense as compared to hosting a Frozen Four.
This weekend, four regionals were held and for three of the four sites, those regionals were held in relatively small arenas in Green Bay, WI, Manchester, NH, and Bridgeport, CN. The other regional was held at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, the home of the St. Louis Blues. From what has been released in terms of attendance this weekend, relatively small crowds turned out for the games in Bridgeport and Manchester which in this case is around 7.800 people.
While it may not make sense for Buffalo to hold a regional it would be a major boom if a local team were to be in Buffalo's regional. Only the Niagara Purple Eagles have ever made the NCAA tournament and they have never gotten out of the first round. There have been talks of the University of Buffalo eventually starting a Division I hockey team, but the funding and Title IX issues make that a hard proposition to get funding for. There are also a handful of Division I colleges in the Rochester area that would travel to a regional if their team made it, but the RIT Tigers have only made the tournament once themselves. If a Buffalo regional occurred with teams from the New England area, it would mean disaster attendance wise.
The Buffalo area can handle itself as an NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament site, but only if it was hosting the Frozen Four and that scenario isn't going to happen for at least another four years.