Everybody Wins at Detroit Red Wings Alumni Exhibition Hockey Game at Marquette | News, Sports, Jobs

Yoopers United player Justin Florek, left, shows his toothless smile as he takes on former Detroit Red Wings player Randy McKay during the Marquette Hockey Night game being played at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Saturday night. Both players are former National Hockey League players; Florek graduated from Marquette Senior High School, while McKay played at Michigan Tech and was a longtime resident of Copper Country. (Newspaper photo by Travis Nelson)

Newspaper sports editor

MARQUETTE — Local hockey fans packed the Berry Events Center in droves Saturday night for the highly anticipated Marquette Hockey Night.

The headliners for the night were the local Yoopers United and the former Detroit Red Wings as they faced off in an exhibition contest.

In an entertaining game for a great cause — United Way of Marquette County — the teams tied 7-7.

Former Detroit Red Wings great Mickey Redmond talks to a referee after a game between his Red Wings alumni team and Yoopers United during the Marquette Hockey NIght game played at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Saturday night. (Newspaper photo by Travis Nelson)

Former Red Wings player and longtime Bally Sports Detroit commentator Mickey Redmond pointed to the Wings alumni team. At 74, Redmond took to the ice without a helmet, like players did when he was in the National Hockey League.

Yoopers United was made up of local hockey players, including Justin Florek, a Marquette native and former Wildcat and NHL player. In 10 career NHL games with the Boston Bruins, Florek scored two goals, including a playoff goal against the Red Wings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At 32, Florek now plays for the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL, but it’s still an interesting experience for a guy who’s seen just about everything in hockey.

“It was pretty surreal there, to be honest,” Florec said. “It was really cool to be back in town, we don’t live here anymore, but to be back in the town where I grew up is great.

“Being there with guys I grew up looking up to, Chris Gobert, Ryan Riipi, Jim Jackson, my old manager Jon Nebel (on Yoopers United), it goes down the list.

“Then to see the Wings come up is just awesome. We’re all big Wings fans here in Marquette, so it was really special and it’s for a special cause, and that’s even better.

The game consisted of two 30-minute periods with a continuously running clock. There was a lot of action and some good plays from both teams to end the game in a tie. Christian Howard scored the first goal of the game for the Yoopers thanks to an assist from Wolff Bélanger.

Corey Elkins got the Wings on the board after a scrum in front, with help from Alex Foster. The game provided quick runs and back and forth as on the ensuing face-off Nicholas Kosinski scored for the Yoopers to make it 2-1. Elkins continued to provide highlights with a sweet move to burn goaltender Jeff Clark and tie the game once again.

Randy McKay gave the Wings a 3-2 lead after hitting one from in front of the net, but Jon Nebel had an answer for Yoopers United to match it.

After a hook penalty on the Wings, David Bonk scored for Yoopers United on the power play with an assist from Kosinski, making it 4-3. In the final minutes of the period, Foster scored to equalize again on a breakaway.

Kosinski scored his second goal of the game 24 minutes from time to put Yoopers United ahead. After assisting on Kosinski’s goal, Bonk scored to make it 6-4. The Wings needed to come back, and they did so with two goals in the next 10 minutes to tie. Foster scored again to make it 6-5 before Kevin Miller leveled the game.

Bélanger managed to score a goal to give the Yoopers a 7-6 lead with just over 11 minutes to play. Neither team could score for the next nine minutes, and Detroit called a timeout with 1:50 left with an empty net.

Off the faceoff, a slapshot from Brent Peterson found the back of the net to tie the game. In the dying seconds, Brett Love hit a backhand shot for the Yoopers to try to get them the win, but Red Wings goaltender Ed Mio made the save.

“Hockey is a wonderful sport and we play it because we love it,” Florek said. “It’s a tough, physical game, but we love it and we love our fans. Giving back is really special, and that’s why it’s so cool for the Wings to come here and show love for our fans. , and help give back to our community.

It almost seems fitting that the game ended in a tie, since the real winners were the community. Area residents were able to fill the Berry and attend an entertaining night of hockey thanks to the Red Wings Alumni team.

But overall, this event helped the United Way immensely, which will now be able to serve the community in a bigger and better way in the future.

“I don’t think there are enough good things to say about the way United Way organized the whole event. Florek said. “I think everyone had a great time, and it’s so special, they’re doing so many good things for everyone in our community.

“It’s so nice to see the support they’ve had in this game and hopefully moving forward.”

Travis Nelson can be reached by email at tnelson@miningjournal.net.


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Catherine J. Martinez