Inspired by Scott Matzka, a former University of Michigan hockey player (1997-2001) who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2014, the U-M hockey team held its third annual ALS Awareness Game on October 26 at Yost Ice Arena. Matzka, who helped U-M win the 1998 national championship, was joined at the game by his parents and son, Owen, who dropped the ceremonial puck before the game.
Showing their support for the Matzka family, in addition to all affected by ALS, were the clinical and research teams from Michigan Medicine’s ALS Center of Excellence. Dr. Eva Feldman, research director for the Center, and Dr. Stephen Goutman, clinical director for the Center, were on hand for the game and participated in the pregame ceremony.
“Increasing awareness about ALS is critical to the work we perform, not only in our clinic, taking care of these patients, but also in the laboratory, performing research to help combat this disease,” said Goutman, who is an associate professor of neurology. “The Michigan hockey program has been valuable in helping us spread the word, and we are indebted to Coach Pearson and Coach Berenson for their support.”
Throughout the night, staff members from the Center worked a table on the concourse, answering questions from patrons. Several people stopped by to share a story about a loved one who had been affected by ALS.
On the airwaves, play-by-play announcer Al Randall spoke to Dr. Feldman during the first intermission about the challenges of ALS and how she and her staff are fighting the disease.
Dr. Feldman was also featured during a live, in-arena interview on the video board at second intermission.
“Scott Matzka was a healthy, strong player here in college for us, a great player,” said Mel Pearson, head coach of the U-M hockey team. “He won the ‘98 (national) championship. It was good for our team to have Scott in the locker room tonight. I told (the players) that winning is important, but the cause and what we’re trying to do to help ALS and help Scott is more important. To have the team rally around him and sing The Victors was really special.”
Earlier in the week, Randall interviewed Dr. Goutman during Coach Pearson’s weekly radio show.
More information about the history of the #IceALS game can be found at https://uofmhealth.org/iceals.