A little Background
In 1959 the Buffalo Shamrocks Athletic Club was created to provide young boys the opportunity to play organized municipal hockey in Western New York and Canada. The Dann Memorial Rink on the Nichols School campus has been our home facility since inception. Nichols School has provided a beautiful roof over our heads since birth.
Over the past 44 years the Shamrocks A.C. has grown into what is now known as the Buffalo Bison Hockey Association. In the late 1980's we began a girls program that has grown into a significant part of our program today. In April 2005, Bison Hockey merged with North Buffalo to strengthen our program. We now have over 575 boys and girls ranging from 2 to 17 years of age involved in our program. Captured below are some personal histories of the early years of our association. We welcome your input as well. Don't forget to go to our Photo Album so you can combine some faces and names to the stories shared below.
Bison and Shamrock Hockey History
By Warren Gelman
The first Shamrock hockey team played during the 1959-1960 season. The previous year, Bill Russell had started a muny team under the name of Paul Batt Buick. Bill then changed the name to the Shamrocks and he and Trey Coley were the first coaches of our Midget team. These two gentlemen went on to guide the Shamrocks AC (Athletic Club) program for years. Trey Coley had been a great high school and college hockey player for
That first Midget team was made up of Clay Hamlin, Bruce Fennie, Paul Sullivan, Lou Surdam, Bill Constantine, Chip Clark, Allen Kew, Bill Cooley, Bill Loweth, Jack Walsh and myself from Nichols, Chip Coley and Ackley Blocher from Amherst, Tim O’Conner and Kirk Kuhlman from Canisius, Bill Russell and Andy McGennis from Park, Jim Darnell from Alden and Mark Fennie from St Mark’s.
The team played in the Buffalo Municipal Hockey League and played against such teams as the Pepsis, Webers, Blasdells and the Buffalo Regals. Our chief rival was the Pepsi’s who had a strong forward by the name of Oscar Johnson. The Shamrocks won both the league and playoffs that year with a final record of 20 wins and one tie.
During the year, we took a bus trip to
The following year, which was the 1960-61 season, was my sophomore year at Nichols. Our team had 23 wins and 1 tie in the regular season to win the Midget Division of the Buffalo Muny League. We went on to win the playoffs and a return trip to
It wasn’t very long before a second Shamrock team was formed. This time it was at the Peewee level. Trey Coley and Bill Russell again served as coaches and the team was known as the Bisons. They wore the red replica jerseys of the AHL Buffalo Bisons with the Pepsi bottle cap logo saying “
By this time two great volunteers had quietly joined the Shamrock ranks. Peter Rush who brought with him two very talented goalie sons, Michael and Patrick, had become involved. In addition, Chuck Rogers, whose son Freddie played in the organization, began to coach our youngest skaters for the Shamrocks. The number of teams were expanded as younger brothers arrived eager to replicate the experience their older siblings were having. Additional teams at the Bantam, Peewee and Squirt house level were formed. Peter Rush and Chuck Rogers were a big part of this expansion
In 1966-67 another NY State Championship banner was added to the rafters at the new Nichols rink – The Dann Memorial Rink was built in time for the 1965 season. This two surface facility was outstanding. The Shamrock Peewees, who were coached by John Williams, Bill Russell and Peter Rush, were made up of a group of skaters who played together from Mites through High School. Lead by future College Hockey All-American Rick Zeller the Shamrocks were undefeated in league play. There were however some occasional wake-up games against older Canadian teams scheduled by Bill Russell to keep these boys modest. Chip Williams, Jay Waters, Peter Butzer, Peter Scamurra, Warren Schintzius, Danny Kreiner, John Moot and Barney Walsh were on the team that traveled to
The next season Warren Gelman returned to
In the early 1980’s the Shamrock organization merged with the Tonawanda Hockey Association as youth hockey enrollments began to shrink in western
We plan to expand this portion of our history as our next season unfolds. In the meantime we welcome the input of others. Please share with us your pictures and stories of past Shamrock, Bison or North Buffalo experiences. Just email or call us with your news.