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Charity hockey game to feature matchup between Stahls', Red Wings alumni

By: Jason Carmel Davis | C&G Newspapers | Published January 14, 2016

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A team of employees and executives from Sterling Heights-based Stahls’ will take on a squad of former Detroit Red Wings in a game that will benefit the Clark Park Coalition at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at Detroit’s Clark Park, and they’re taking the game seriously.

“We don’t want to get embarrassed,” said Paul Sabatini, sports marketing coordinator for Stahls’. The Stahls’ team features 17 players, all of whom have extensive experience on the ice.

“Within our offices, we have a lot of people who have played hockey, but we’ve never played together,” Sabatini said.

The game is being played as part of the Frozen Fish Fiasco — an annual set of outdoor hockey games played at the Clark Park Ice Rink — the only full-size outdoor rink in the city. The event is slated for Jan. 30-31.

The highlight of this year’s event is the matchup between the Stahls’ team and Red Wings alumni. The cost to attend the game is $5. There is no cost to attend the rest of the weekend’s games. One hundred percent of the funds raised from the event will benefit the Clark Park Coalition, according to Erica Swoish, of the Detroit-based Franco Public Relations Group.

According to the Clark Park website, funds raised from the event will go to the nonprofit Clark Park Coalition to help keep the park, located at 1130 Clark Ave., open and thriving for the neighborhood kids and to help make Detroit a better place to live.

Former Red Wings slated to play in the game include Darren McCarty, Peter Klima and Mickey Redmond.

Since beginning in 2010, the Frozen Fish Fiasco has raised more than $75,000 for the Clark Park Coalition, according to Swoish. The event was established by members of two adult hockey teams in the Labatt Hockey Detroit “A” League to raise money to keep Clark Park open and operating.

Last year’s event drew 1,500 spectators to the park. Stahls’, an NHL licensee and  a manufacturer of garment decoration equipment for professional, college and high school sports leagues, serves as the title sponsor of this year’s event.

“This is a great opportunity for us to take part in something that will help kids,” Sabatini said. “We all remember being young and starting out with sports and having parks to go to. Any help we can give is great.

“People who are into hockey will love it. Any chance you get to skate and play outside is great.”

The Stahls’ team did not want to go into the game without a strategy, so it acquired the services of a local resident who was on the ice for one of the biggest moments in hockey history.

Harrison Township resident and St. Clair Shores native Mark Wells, a defenseman on the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team, is guiding the team in four practices leading up to the Jan. 30 game. Wells will also coach the team in the game.

Members of the Stahls’ team gifted Wells a jacket that reads “Coach Mark.” Wells understands the game is in support of a good cause, but like his players, the competitive juices are flowing.

“We’ve got some pretty good players. When they first asked me to do it, they were planning on having just one practice,” Wells said. “I’m amazed at their drive and will to learn.

“We’re taking this seriously. We’re not going out there to be in awe of the Wings. It’s beyond that. It’s about what we can accomplish. We’re going to go out onto that rink and put on a great show.”

Sabatini and Wells say the practices have gone well. Wells is mum on any strategy he’ll use in the game. Sabatini said Wells is running the team through drills he learned from former U.S. men’s hockey coach Herb Brooks.

Sabatini is relishing the chance to work with and play for Wells.

“He had a huge effect on my hockey career. I was 10 years old when he was on that 1980 Olympic team,” Sabatini said. “I can remember skating at Lakeside Mall when it had a rink. To have (Wells) share his wisdom with us is unreal.”

Wells understands the importance of parks in a community. He said he grew up playing hockey near 12 Mile and I-94 in St. Clair Shores.

“It gives kids and families a place to go,” Wells said. “It’s not only a place where you go to meet your friends, but you can play organized sports there and learn some things too. Access to parks is important. They’re great places for people to stay active in their community.”

Even though he’s hopeful that his team will put up a good fight against the former pros, Wells understands why everybody will really be in attendance Jan. 30.

“We’re proud to have a chance to raise money for a great cause,” Wells said. “Some young boy living near the park can have a spot to call his own. It can be what he wants it to be. He can meet kids there and build friendships. There’s nothing better than a lifelong friendship.”

For more information on the 2015 Frozen Fish Fiasco, check www.frozenfishfiasco.com.

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