2017-02-23 / Sports

Red Wings Alumni Best the Pond Hockey Stars 12-5 in Exhibition Game

By Erich T. Doerr


A Red Wings Alumni team visited St. Ignace to take on a Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey team in Little Bear East Arena as part of the Pond Hockey events Friday, February 17. The Red Wings won. A Red Wings Alumni team visited St. Ignace to take on a Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey team in Little Bear East Arena as part of the Pond Hockey events Friday, February 17. The Red Wings won. Spectators packed the Little Bear East Arena Friday, February 17, to watch the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association team face a squad including players from the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship in the tournament’s annual exhibition game. The Red Wings defeated their Labatt Blue rivals 12-5, to the joy of the all-ages crowd.

“We had a lot of good guys making good plays tonight,” Red Wings player Dave Huntzicker, a former University of Michigan player, said before complimenting the skill of the pond hockey squad. “This is a trip I always look forward to. The [community] of St. Ignace is a great host.”

Friday’s game was played as two 25-minute halves. Before the puck dropped, a moment of silence took place to honor Mike Ilitch, the longtime Red Wings owner who passed away a week earlier. The game was the first of two this weekend for the alumni squad, who traveled from St. Ignace to Alpena for another game Saturday afternoon, February 18. The Red Wings roster for the game included former National Hockey League players and standouts from both minor league and college teams. Brent Fedyk, a Red Wings player from 1987 to 1992, helped lead the pros to victory as he recorded a hat trick.


At left: Local law enforcement was out in force Friday, February 17, to make sure activities took place safely and alcohol consumption was properly monitored at the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association exhibition game at Little Bear East Arena. At halftime intermission of the game, here are (from left) St. Ignace Police Sergeant Allen Mitchell, Mackinac County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Isaac Harrigan, and St. Ignace Officer Austin Jobes. At left: Local law enforcement was out in force Friday, February 17, to make sure activities took place safely and alcohol consumption was properly monitored at the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association exhibition game at Little Bear East Arena. At halftime intermission of the game, here are (from left) St. Ignace Police Sergeant Allen Mitchell, Mackinac County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Isaac Harrigan, and St. Ignace Officer Austin Jobes. “We had a great time,” Mr. Fedyk said. “It’s nice to see everyone again, have a good time hanging out, and get a little exercise in.”


The Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship’s Best Team Beard Competition took place Friday, February 17, at Little Bear East Arena, with the White Flame Brewing Company team from Hudsonville earning the title. The team is pictured here on the ice including (not in order) Shaun DeLorme, Matt Tomaszewski, Matt LaPointe, Nick Winsemius, Andrew Markee, Kyle Shearer, and Casey Hilliker. The Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship’s Best Team Beard Competition took place Friday, February 17, at Little Bear East Arena, with the White Flame Brewing Company team from Hudsonville earning the title. The team is pictured here on the ice including (not in order) Shaun DeLorme, Matt Tomaszewski, Matt LaPointe, Nick Winsemius, Andrew Markee, Kyle Shearer, and Casey Hilliker. The Labatt Blue team featured players from several teams in the pond hockey tournament, including a squad called Washed Up that included several players with St. Ignace connections. Cody Therrian was one of the local players who suited up in the dark blue jerseys Friday and scored a goal in a game.


After the Friday, February 17, exhibition game at Little Bear East Arena between the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association team and a squad of Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship players, the players all shared friendly handshakes on the ice. Two of the Labatt Blue players met up with the Red Wings (from left) goalie Eddie Mio (#41) and Todd Bidner (#8). After the Friday, February 17, exhibition game at Little Bear East Arena between the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association team and a squad of Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship players, the players all shared friendly handshakes on the ice. Two of the Labatt Blue players met up with the Red Wings (from left) goalie Eddie Mio (#41) and Todd Bidner (#8). “That was a lot of fun,” Mr. Therrian said, praising the chemistry of the pond hockey team as he and other players such as Patrick Sweeney and Eric Hillock have played together for years. “Everybody’s passing was very slick out there.”

The Red Wings offense struck early and often in the first half, with 12-year NHL veteran and former Detroit Vipers IHL Turner Cup champion Wayne Presley scoring the first goal on an assist from former Flint Generals star Lorne Knauft just over two minutes into the game. Moments later, the score became 2-0 when early 2000s Red Wing Jason Woolley scored on an assist from Mr. Fedyk. Mr. Fedyk then scored two goals of his own, with 1980s Wings star Petr Klíma and Mr. Huntzicker assisting on the first and former Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks player Dean Kolstad assisting on the second.

The Wings 4-0 lead lasted for about six minutes before Pat Wooley scored an unassisted goal to put Labatt Blue on the board. The Wings countered with a goal by former Saginaw Gears player Jon Finstrom on an assist by Mr. Presley. The St. Ignace players led a brief rally for Labatt Blue as Mr. Sweeney scored unassisted, then assisted Mr. Therrian in scoring his goal. The Red Wings’ Erik Reitz, a former Minnesota Wild player, scored the last goal of the first half with assists going to former Boston Bruin and Vipers Turner Cup champion Darren Banks and Mr. Woolley. The Red Wings led 6-3 at the intermission.

The second half began with Labatt Blue cutting the lead down to just two goals as Jack Casey scored in the first minute of play. The Red Wings then took control as Mr. Finstrom scored on an assist from Mr. Huntzicker then Mr. Banks scored with assists going to Mr. Huntzicker and former Washington Capitals player Todd Bidner. Mr. Reitz then added another goal assisted by Mr. Woolley. Mr. Presley then recorded his second goal of the night with assists going to Mr. Finstrom and four-time Stanley Cup champion Joe Kocur.

Labatt Blue’s Jamie Laferriere scored his team’s last goal of the game with just over 10 minutes remaining. Mr. Kocur scored about four minutes later for the Red Wings with assists from Mr. Finstrom and Mr. Huntzicker. Mr. Fedyk scored the last goal of the night to complete his hat trick on an assist from Mr. Knauft.

Eddie Mio, the Red Wings’ goalie from the mid-1980s, and Rob Laurie, a former Western Michigan University and Flint Generals player, split time between the pipes for the Wings on the way to victory. Mr. Mio played the first half with Mr. Laurie playing the second. St. Ignace resident Zach Harrington played the full game in the net for the Labatt Blue and stopped many shots from the former pros.

“We played hard today,” Mr. Harrington said.

The thrill of playing the Red Wings resonated throughout the Labatt Blue roster.

“I had a blast,” Clarkston player Chas Hubbard said. “We’ll work hard and get them next year.”

This year’s casual game at times featured Stanley Cup winners on both sides of the puck. Mr. Klíma, a 1990 Cup champion as part of the Edmonton Oilers after leaving Detroit, played the first half of the game for the Wings as planned, then switched over to Labatt Blue for the second half after some casual halftime conversation between the teams. This year’s game overall was a friendly, clean affair with no penalties called against either team.

The main game was one of several activities on the ice at the Little Bear Friday night. The intermission period featured several members of Cheboygan’s River City Renegades roller derby team demonstrating some of the rules of their sport. After the game ended, the second annual Pond Hockey Best Team Beard Contest was held, with the winners declared the Hudsonville’s White Flame Brewing Company team.

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