Brian McFarlane '55: A Passion for the Game
Seven Up, Seven Down: Mike Hamill ’99 Reaches High Points on All Seven Continents
By Bob Graham ’61
Relentlessly, time has passed. The dark locks of youth have given way to a thatch of gray. But the rich voice familiar to a generation of Hockey Night in Canada TV audiences remains, as does the genial manner. Now 79, All-American hockey great Brian McFarlane ’55 still pursues his lifelong passion for the game as a writer. And, most remarkably, as a player.
Three days a week, from December through April, McFarlane rises early, throws his gear in the car, and drives the 30 miles from his winter home in Naples, Fla., to the Skatium in Fort Myers to join like-minded colleagues for two hours of friendly competition, a routine he has followed for the past decade. His Florida Snowbirds’ jersey bears number 12, his number at St. Lawrence, and also the captain’s “C” – eloquent affirmation of his teammates’ respect and affection for him.
He scores, too. Frequently, just as he did in college. “I try to match my age with goals and assists,” he says. “The way golfers do with age and strokes.” At age 78, McFarlane concluded his 2009-10 ice sessions with 81 points on 25 goals and 56 assists, still scoring above his years.
While best known for his work in hockey broadcasting, and for authoring more than 60 books about hockey – achievements making him perhaps the game’s leading chronicler, and prompting his 1995 induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame – McFarlane has also played the game throughout his life. At St. Lawrence he led the hockey program to national recognition in the 1950s. A half-century later he still holds a number of school records, including co-holding (with women’s stand-out Carson Duggan ’09) the mark for most career goals (101), a feat of which he is particularly proud.
McFarlane and his family have close St. Lawrence ties. His sister Norah Perez graduated with him in 1955. He and his wife, Joan (Pellet ‘55), met as freshmen in 1951; they are parents of daughters (”Chips”) Lauren and Brenda, both ’84, as well as a son, Michael.
He is unequivocal in praise for his alma mater. In his memoir he says, “I enjoyed my St. Lawrence days, and often say that going there was the single best decision I ever made.”
Bob Graham is the author of Go SAINTS! The Saga of St. Lawrence University Hockey 1912-2001, which he discussed at a book talk on campus during Reunion 2010.