Hockey team hosting Pink Game tonight

The Alpena hockey team will do something it’s never done before when it hosts Petoskey tonight.

When the Wildcats take the ice, they’ll be part of the first-ever “Pink Game” at Northern Lights Arena in support of those whose lives have been affected by cancer. The players will wear pink uniforms which will be auctioned off and presented to the winners at the end of the game.

Tonight’s game begins at 7 p.m. Tickets will be two dollars and all proceeds will go to Friends Together.

Several of Alpena’s other teams already have a pink game and thanks to the efforts of supporters like Jodi Nash, Val Kwiatkowski and others, the hockey team will add itself to that list.

“It means a lot. I don’t know if the hockey team’s ever done this before, so to set a trend like this is going to big,” Alpena senior forward Zach Nash said. “Helping out Friends Together like this is a good thing for the hockey team and a good experience.”

The Wildcats will also have several honorary captains for the event which include:

  • Taryn and Trevor McConnell, whose father Todd was a former Alpena hockey player and coach.
  • Cole, Wyatt and Samuel Romero, whose father Tom was involved with the Alpena Hockey Association for more than 40 years and was a referee and coach.
  • Scott MacKenzie, whose wife Lori was a former secretary at Alpena High School and was very active in youth sports.

The Wildcats will also honor longtime hockey announcer Jerry LaFave, who passed away late last month. A collection of LaFave’s hockey memorabilia was donated to the arena last year.

“What we’re trying to do is give back to the community a little bit and we’ve had a lot of people affected by cancer in this area of late,” Alpena coach Pete Doubek said. “The kids are excited about it and it seemed like a good thing to do.”

Fresh off a pair of tough loss to Traverse City Central and Traverse City West, the Wildcats (5-5, 1-3 Big North) have focused a lot on conditioning this week as they prepare for a second half that has them playing at home only a handful of times after tonight.

They’ll get a good test from the Northmen (7-6, 1-1-1 Big North), who are fresh off a 5-4 win over the Bay Area Reps on Wednesday and also have several talented veterans.

“The rest of our schedule is rather loaded, which is good because if we can hang in there and play the way we did in Traverse City and keep improving, we’ll be a better team down the road,” Doubek said.

One area Alpena won’t have to worry much about is goaltending. While this can often be a source of concern for some teams, the Wildcats have a pair of veterans in Bret LeTourneau and Jesse Boilore. LeTourneau has been solid as of late and came up with two strong performances against Central and West, finishing with 38 and 43 saves respectively.

“Bret LeTourneau has been playing really great lately,” Nash said. “It’s nice to have two veterans you can depend on, it’s not like you have a rookie out there that you’re scared for. It’s nice to not have to worry about goaltending because you know what they’re going to do.”

Overall Doubek has been impressed with the way his team has played so far this year, noting that the Wildcats’ veteran leadership has helped the team gel.

“The whole attitude on the team is really good this year,” Doubek said. “They’re much more cohesive, the leaders are bearing down and setting good examples and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”