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Cavaretta’s Career in Western NY Youth Hockey Honored With J. Michael Duffett Award

03/31/2014, 5:30pm MDT
By John Tranchina - Special to

Janice Cavaretta was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and congratulations she received after she was announced as the latest winner of the J. Micheal Duffett Award, presented by the Buffalo Sabres to the individual who best exemplifies “the knowledge, teaching, love of the game and gentle humanity of Mike” in support of youth hockey in western New York state.

After all, while it might be a big deal to others that Cavaretta is the first woman to claim the award in its 30-year history, she was simply following her passion.

That’s why it seemed a little strange to be recognized for her long career in youth hockey that includes serving as a coach of a boys’ Bantam team in the Buffalo area, working 14 years (and counting) as the executive director of the Western New York Amateur Hockey League, and serving 11 years as USA Hockey registrar for the region.

“I was taken aback and certainly very surprised,” Cavaretta said. “I did not expect it, I did not think that I would be considered, and certainly did not think I would win the award with so many deserving people, especially when you consider the credentials of the past winners. I know a few people that have won it over the years that I have a lot of respect for, and I know that it is a privilege to be awarded this honor.”

To David Braunstein, president of the West section of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association (NYSAHA) and a member of the selection committee, Cavaretta was such an obvious choice he couldn’t believe he’d never thought to nominate her before. So when he finally did, Cavaretta was enthusiastically voted the winner by the panel of Western New York luminaries that include Mike Gilbert, the Sabres’ public relations director; Seymour H. Knox IV, whose father and uncle were the original owners of the Sabres; Michael Duffett’s widow and son Brian; and several other people deeply entrenched in the area’s youth hockey scene.

“Everyone that is involved in youth hockey in western New York, whether it’s in administration or coaching, knows Janice Cavaretta,” Braunstein said. “She’s the executive director of the largest youth hockey league, a 28-member organization, so they know her from that, but she quietly coaches also.”

The award was established in 1984 to honor J. Michael Duffett, a former Clarkson University player who went on to coach local youth hockey and worked in the Sabres’ hockey operations department until he lost a long battle with cancer.

Cavaretta, who earned her Masters Level 5 USA Hockey coaching accreditation since 1989, was presented the award during the Sabres’ home game on Dec. 19 against the Boston Bruins, and was a little overwhelmed by having the spotlight shining so bright on her.

“Gosh, that was over the top,” she said of the experience that night. “The Buffalo Sabres, what a class act. It was a whirlwind. I honestly do not remember much of the game. I enjoyed watching the kids delight at being able to sit in the press box to watch a game, and being able to talk to so many people who came over to introduce themselves. When it was announced at the arena, the Sabres put together a multimedia presentation that was shown on the Jumbotron and lasted a few minutes. It was also shown on TV, and hearing the crowd cheer and chants from people that knew me was pretty cool. Some of my current players were at the game, which was very special.”

Beyond all the pomp and circumstance of the presentation, Cavaretta was deeply touched by the reaction she received from current and former players she’s coached, as well as numerous people she didn’t even know.

“My phone blew up with text messages, tweets, emails and voice mail,” she said. “One of the tweets I received touched me: ‘huge congrats to the inspiring #hockeyhero.’ I remember thinking, ‘This is beyond special.’ I never saw myself in that light, yet many people do.

“So many parents have contacted me about their daughter playing hockey and some struggles they have encountered, asking for advice. To be seen as a role model to so many that I do not know is unbelievable. To hear from parents of kids I coached, present and former players, some who are now adults with kids of their own, was phenomenal, too, and the emotions that surface are indescribable.”

And while she has encountered occasional barriers as a woman in an overwhelmingly male environment, Cavaretta has overcome those obstacles in impressive ways and used any setbacks as further motivation to forge ahead.

“A lot of what I faced was people telling me that I couldn’t do things, I shouldn’t do things or that I don’t belong there,” Cavaretta explained. “That never stopped me. At times, it was frustrating. However, my silent reply most of the time was, ‘Watch me and you’ll see what I can do.’

“Yeah, I had to prove myself, put my time in, try to get people to see me for me — not a female, but someone who knows and loves the game. I started in the game at 3 years old, playing hockey with boys much older than me. I had to prove I can play all the time or they wouldn’t include me. Once I did, the rest was history. I have always had confidence in who I am and what I could do, I just needed the opportunity.”

Coaching a competitive team of teenage boys, she has earned the respect of not only her players but also their parents. Her experience as an elite-level player herself, back before the days of competitive women’s college hockey, still serves her well occasionally in practice.

“Any challenges faced coaching were mostly with administrators and parents,” Cavaretta said. “The kids were always easy to work with. They still are. Once they see that you know your ‘stuff’ and understand the game, they are very accepting.

“Making a few moves on them during practice doesn’t hurt either.”

Added Braunstein, “Janice was quite an accomplished hockey player when she played. If they’d had collegiate hockey at the time she played, she would have been a Division I player. She probably would have been an Olympian, too, she was that good.”

Ultimately, Cavaretta is just being herself and following the path her father, Tony Rozek — who passed away in March 2013 — helped set her on. She thought it was fitting that it was Nov. 8, Rozek’s birthday, when she first heard the news that she would receive the Duffett Award, because Rozek helped instill that love for the game when she was just a child, and in the process, cemented a lifelong connection between them.

“We spent so much time together, as so many parents do with the kids traveling to practice and games, but our relationship went further,” Cavaretta said of her dad. “We bonded. He was there for me and my family all the time. We could talk about anything and he would do anything for me. We talked hockey and sports all the time. He was my main mentor and encouraged me to be all I can, academically and in life. He told me at a very young age not to cry or pout when things didn’t go my way. ‘Don’t get mad, just prove them wrong,’ and show them who I was.

“He taught me so much on dealing with people and on the administrative side of the game, and how doing the little extra things will always make a difference. You never know who is watching and who you are making an impression on.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Update on 2015-16 USA Hockey Officiating Registration

07/08/2015, 5:15pm MDT
By David LaBuda, USA Hockey National Referee-in-Chief

District Referees-in-Chief implement changes to registration procedures

As we enter the 2015-16 registration season for officials, I want to give an update of what changes to expect this season.

The Officials Section has been busy since the 2015 Winter Meeting, working on implementing the registration changes that were discussed and voted on by the district referees-in-chief, along with refining the testing and online seminar programs.

For 2015-16, there will be an informational video available before an official registers with USA Hockey outlining the requirements and commitment that an individual will need to fulfill in order to complete their registration.


Next, and a very important change, starting with this season, in order to register for a seminar, an official will have to first register as an official (online) with USA Hockey in order to gain access to the online program to register for a seminar.

This change was due to a number of individuals who would never register as an official with USA Hockey and then ‘no show’ to the seminar that they registered for, which frequently led to other registered officials being denied attendance at that seminar because the seating capacity had already been reached.

This change will provide more incentive for every individual who registers as an official -- and registers for a seminar -- to attend that seminar and complete the registration requirements.

The open-book testing process has also been modified for the coming season. What hasn’t changed is that a Level 1 official will still have to answer the first 50 questions, while Level 2, 3 & 4 officials will have to answer 100 questions. However, the passing score for a Level 2 official has been modified to 80 from 85. All other passing scores remain the same as last year. Those minimum passing scores are 35 for a Level 1 official and 90 for Levels 3 and 4.

While an official is taking the open-book exam, there will be immediate feedback provided after each answer is submitted. If the question was answered incorrectly, the rule reference for that missed question will be given with the appropriate rule book language.

After completing all of the required questions, a summary will be sent of all incorrect responses with their rule references. If a passing score is obtained, then the open-book exam requirement will be complete.

If the result is a failing score, after the seven-day waiting period has passed, the official will only have to retake those questions that were incorrectly answered on their first open-book exam. The retake questions will be based on the same rule reference as the originally missed questions, but will cover a different aspect of the rule.

Once all of the retake questions are answered, the number of correctly answered retake questions will be added to the original test score to hopefully obtain a passing grade. As a reminder, there is no third attempt to pass the open-book exam.

During the winter meeting, the Officials Section spent considerable time discussing seminar program feedback, and in particular, the online modules. All feedback was taken seriously and an action plan was discussed and adopted.

Two work groups were established to address the new classroom curriculums and to improve the online video modules. Both were comprised of grassroots members who could bring a grassroots perspective to their work. Both groups have completed their work and their recommendations have been adopted. The new shortened classroom curriculums have been distributed for application to this coming seminar season and the online modules are being re-engineered with improved formatting, better sequencing, animation replacing some video clips and reduction of music and voice-overs to allow the viewer to better focus on the presented material.

We’ve also evaluated the number of required modules for each level, and based on the user analytics that the first years’ experience produced, we have reduced the number of required modules in some cases.

Lastly, as a reminder, once an official begins their first online module, they will need to complete all of their online module training within a specified time period. The online module completion time periods are 60 days for Level 1 registered officials and 45 days for Levels 2, 3 and 4. If all of the required and elective modules are not completed within the specified time frame, the official will have to restart all of the module training from the beginning. This requirement was waived during last year’s registration season due to the delayed rollout of the online module program, but it’s back in place this year.

This completion requirement was put in place by the District RICs to encourage all officials to complete their registration as early as possible and to provide continuity in the overall seminar education process.

As a reminder, to complete an official’s registration an applicant must:

  • Register online with USA Hockey
  • Register and attend a classroom seminar (reduced attendance times depending on registration level)
  • Complete the required and elective online training modules within the required time frame
  • Pass the open-book exam at their registration level
  • Pass the closed-book exam (no closed-book exam at Level 1) for their registration level
  • Complete their online USA Hockey SafeSport training at the end of every two-year cycle


Work will continue on improving our educational programs, and as always, we will continue actively listening to your constructive feedback. Without your involvement and support as a community, we cannot continue moving forward.  Acknowledging that improvements were needed was only one step in the process.  Implementing those changes in a way that meets the needs of our officiating community is the next step and we’re excited to be taking that step.

Have a great 2015-16 season and as always, skate hard and have fun when you’re on the ice.

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