The Buffalo Sabres today announced that Tom McFall has been named as the 2012 recipient of the J. Michael Duffett Memorial Award, presented each year to the coach whose contributions to amateur hockey in Western New York “best exemplify the knowledge, teaching, love of the game and gentle humanity of Mike.”
McFall will become the 27th recipient of the Duffett Award at the Sabres’ game on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He will join his father, John McFall, who won the award in 1995.
One of McFall’s greatest contributions to youth hockey in Western New York came in 1992 when, upon recognizing a lack of summer hockey programs in the Jamestown area, McFall went about creating a summer hockey camp. That camp, now entering its 20th season, has expanded into McFall Brothers Hockey, which provides additional hockey training for area hockey players of all ages.
McFall teamed up with fellow coach George Watkins in 2002 to create the “Keep It In Jamestown” house hockey league. The co-founders began the league with the goal of allowing more young people to play hockey at virtually any age or playing ability, and without the challenges presented by travel hockey. The program has since given hundreds of kids who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to play hockey a chance to experience the sport.
With 20 years of coaching in the Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association (CCYHA) now under his belt, McFall has coached at every level of youth hockey and currently serves as head coach of the Southern Tier Storm of the Great Lakes Girls Hockey League. He also oversees both the on- and off-ice operations of the Jamestown Timbits, a program that emphasizes fun while teaching beginners aged four to seven the fundamentals of hockey. This year alone, the Jamestown Timbits program has welcomed nearly 70 new players.
In his playing days, McFall played for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in 1984-85 before joining the Oswego State Lakers for his collegiate career. In four years with Oswego State, McFall set the school records for assists by a defenseman in both the single-season (38, 1986-87) and career (118, 1985-90) categories. He is tied for 28th in scoring in school history with 139 points (21+118) in 123 career games.
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 long battle with cancer. In 1984, the Buffalo Sabres established the J. Michael Duffett Award in his memory.