November 8 was a special day for Janice Cavaretta. Not only was it her father’s birthday, it was also the day she received the phone call notifying her she will be the 2013 recipient of the J. Michael Duffett Memorial Award.
Cavaretta’s father had recently passed away, and receiving the award on his birthday was an extremely special moment.
“I knew he was with me at that point,” Cavaretta said on Thursday night at the First Niagara Center after being presented with the award.
She credits her father for making hockey such a prevalent part of her life.
“Hockey really brings people together. My dad and I spent a ton of time together traveling. The bond the game brought us was tremendous. We met so many good people and I cannot describe how great that was.”
WATCH: CAVARETTA TALKS ABOUT WINNING THE DUFFETT AWARD
Janice Cavaretta was surrounded by family and friends as the Buffalo Sabres presented her the award which is given out yearly to a coach or administrator whose contributions to amateur hockey in Western New York “best exemplify the knowledge, teaching, love of the game and gentle humanity of Mike.”
Cavaretta is also the first woman to win the award since it was established in 1984. She is honored to be the first woman recipient of the award and hopes it inspires others.
“Growing up, I was always told ‘she can’t do that. She can’t play hockey.’ I faced a lot of that. I am hoping people will see this award and think ‘I can do that. I will strive to be everything I know I can be.’”
Cavaretta has an extremely decorated hockey resume. As a player growing up, she captained numerous state and national title winning teams. As an adult, she has been a secretary, statistician, USA Hockey Associate registrar, Western Section Administrator, Qualifying Games Coordinator and Credential Review Chair, as well as the Executive Director of the Western New York Hockey League. Currently, she is an assistant coach with the Buffalo Regals.
“Being recognized with the award is very overwhelming. I was very surprised when I got the phone call that I was even considered. Everybody I have talked to about Michael Duffett tell me what a tremendous guy and role model that he was. I hope that I can continue in those footsteps and keep being that role model to people.”
J. Michael Duffett was a student of the game and a coach with the Buffalo Bisons and the Amherst Hockey Association. A standout player at Nichols School and Clarkson University, Duffett was working in the Sabres hockey department under Scotty Bowman and Roger Neilson at the time of his death after a battle with cancer. In 1984, the Buffalo Sabres established the J. Michael Duffett Award in his memory.