Red Wings, Michigan alumni square off in charity game

Five-year-old Owen Matzka scored to start the second period on Michigan alumni goaltender Marty Turco in an attempt to spark a comeback but the Detroit Red Wing alumni fell short, 10-7, on Saturday night at Yost.

Yost Ice Arena hosted a hockey game with Head Coach Red Berenson behind the bench, but it wasn’t the Michigan Wolverines for this game but a team of his former players all coming together for a greater cause.

The cause: to raise money for former Wolverine Scott Matzka, who was diagnosed with ALS in September of 2015.

Matzka, who is from Port Huron, Michigan, played for Michigan from 1997-2001 and played on the 1998 National Hockey team. In his four seasons with the Wolverines, he accumulated 91 points (35 goals, 56 assists) in 166 games.

“This reminded me of why I came to Michigan,” the elder Matzka said postgame.

The Wolverines hosted an ALS Awareness game when they played Union College in October, where they also honored the 1996 National Championship hockey team. For some, that’s where we learned that Scott Matzka was diagnosed with the terrible disease.

The lineups for the game were all-star lineups and, yes, a few Michigan alums found themselves playing against their brethren. Michigan had Marty Turco and goaltending coach Steve Shields in net, Chris Fox, Mike Komisarek, Matt Herr and Andrew Merrick. The team consisted of five other goaltenders Josh Blackburn, Shawn Hunwick, Kevin O’Malley, and L.J Scarpace as well as former teammates and players who just wanted to show their support for Scott Matzka.

After the game,  Turco was asked about his thoughts about the game on Saturday night.

“A ton of emotion runs through you when you get here,” he said. “To seeing classmates, teammates, the overall collection of guys from a certain era that represented Scott as a friend and teammate…to see the support of the fans, red wing alums, this community, this hockey community. To see Scott come out and say what he did. It made me feel really good to be a part of a special group like this”

The score doesn’t matter in alumni games of this magnitude, they like to be competitive but have a good time and when you saw the faces of the players during the game, you could see that.

At the beginning of the second period, a familiar named scored probably the best goal of the entire game when Owen Matzka entered the game and scored on Turco by going five-hole on him.

The crowd erupted with cheers and that’s the point when you realized what this game meant.

After the game, Turco said, in regards to the Owen goal, that one of the things he misses most about not playing anymore is the opportunity to make a difference.

“I was young once… It’s kind of a circle of life type of deal. It’s great to see our crowd get into and Matt. Ultimately that’s what it was all about for him and making memories that will last a lifetime for him too,” he said.

After the game, Turco called the elder Matzka a terrific hockey player.

 “He learned how to be a Michigan man and I think today, for the best perspective at least showed what it’s like to be a part of this really special fraternity,” he said. 

“It sucks why we are here, to be honest, but to see him and talk about it in the way he’s put it in perspective and what he’s doing too not feeling good as of sort and taking the chance to raise awareness for this terrible disease. Our hats are off to him and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for him or any of our brother in the Michigan hockey family, Turco said.”