William E. Russell

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Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bill Russell moved to Buffalo at a young age where his father founded Vulcan Floors in 1916. He graduated from Bennett High School where he ran on a relay as part of the Orange’s champion track team. In 1939 he joined a business founded by his uncle.

Where William Russell made his mark on Buffalo’s sports scene was through his support of athletic groups. In 1956 he got his start as organizer and first president of the Central Amherst Little League, an organization that still exists to this day.

His most meaningful contributions were made on the ice, including serving as president of the Buffalo Skating Club in 1957 and 1958. As president, Bill brought in numerous elite skaters and Olympians, such as Dick Button and Kit Klein, to perform exhibitions.

It was in 1959-60 when Bill would make his biggest impact on Western New York youth sports, as he started a MUNY hockey team that eventually became the Shamrocks, a team he and Trey Coley coached for years. The Shamrocks would eventually become the Bison Hockey Association, which is what they are known as today.

The team played in the Buffalo Municipal Hockey League, winning both the league and the playoffs that first year with a record of 20-0-1. The following season was even better, as the team went 23-0-1 in the regular season to win the Midget Division. The team made their second consecutive trip to Lake Placid defeating Massena and Lake Placid to win their first state tournament.

Bill then formed a second Shamrock team, this time at the Peewee level. Eventually additional teams in the Bantam, Peewee, and Squirt house levels were formed.

In 1966-67, Bill would once again lead the Shamrocks to a state title. Playing their home games at Dann Memorial Rink, the Shamrock Peewees, with future NHL’er and Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame member Peter Scamurra, went undefeated in league play and headed to the State Fairgrounds, winning the New York State Peewee championship. They would later finish 4th in the national tournament.

Russell was known to travel extensively with his team, playing games as far away as Wisconsin. To keep his players honest, Bill would also schedule games against older Canadian teams.

Along with his involvement with the Shamrocks, Bill was a founder and director of the Amherst Hockey Association. He was also a director of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association and the Amateur Association of the United States (now known as USA hockey) and NYS representative on the American Olympic Committee.

William E. Russell passed away in November of 1979. His legacy lives on through the Bison Hockey Association, still going strong 62 years after he founded the Shamrocks, through the Central Amherst Little League, in its 65th year and the Amherst Hockey Association, now in its 57th season.