Pointe Media | March 2016 | Grosse Pointe Magazine - March/April 2016 Issue
A Phenomenal Day for Hockey
By Melissa Walsh
If hockey is a religious sport, its ‘Peace be with you’ equivalent is ‘It’s a great day for hockey.’ Believers respond with ‘Every day is a great day for hockey.’
On Jan. 30-31, great day for hockey greetings were abundant as crowds of hockey folks gathered at Clark Park for the annual Frozen Fish Fiasco, a weekend of charity hockey games benefitting Clark Park Coalition’s youth
“It’s a pretty remarkable story,” says Fiasco founder Dominic Riggio. When the park lost city funding in 1991, nearby residents “banded together and didn’t want to lose a place for their kids to play and hang out and keep out of Clark Park’s ice – the only public regulation-sized outdoor rink in Metro Detroit – is flooded by a “2014 Winter Classic” Zamboni donated by the NHL. Teams of little-guys through beer-leaguers compete on this “jewel of the city” with a majestic view of the Ambassador Bridge and the magic that the good old hockey game feeds into hearts.
This year’s Frozen Fish Fiasco headliner tilt was Team Stahls versus the Detroit Red Wings Alumni, played in weather that blessed players and fans with the perfect combination of sunshine and freeze.
The hockey gods also brought USA Hockey’s 1980 “Miracle Team” member Mark Wells to coach Team Stahls. Owned by Grosse Pointe Woods resident Ted Stahl, Stahls provides heat-applied materials to the sports industry. The team, comprising employees and family members, practiced at St. Clair Shores Civic Arena, where a rink is named after Wells, and at University Liggett School’s McCann Ice Arena. Running his players through the same rigorous drills Herb Brooks imposed on the 1980 USA Olympic Team, including “Herbies,” the vision for the game was not only driven by the desire to help kids, but fueled by the will to win.
“I still to this day remember where I was when (Team USA) beat the Russians,” says Team Stahls captain Paul Sabatini. “For somebody who was part of the greatest sports moment in U.S. history to want to coach us ... it was awesome.”
“It’s an honor to shake Wells’ hand in line today,” says retired NHLer and MSU alumnus, Brian Smolinski, playing for the DRWA. Smolinski also noted the competitive game this Stahls’ squad of hockey lifers brought, which ended in the tight 9-8 DRWA win.
“You’re just taken to the old times when you were out on the pond,” says Smolinski.
“People say, ‘Man, you put smiles on kids’ faces,’” says Red Wings alumnus and broadcaster Mickey Redmond, “and they have no idea how it puts smiles on our hearts.”
Watching his daughter and sons – Kari, Dan and Trevor – together on the ice, Ted Stahl comments, “Phenomenal.”
Stahls supports Operation Homefront and other charities. “Hockey has always been one of our favorites,” he says.
Photos courtesy of Tim Fuller