Retired goalie Doug Teskey huffed and puffed moments after skating off the ice at Sunday's Toledo hockey alumni game but nothing could whip the beaming smile off of his face.
The 37-year-old donned the old pads and got his competitive juices flowing during the game featuring former Toledo pro hockey players against alumni from the Fort Wayne Komets.
Teskey, who played both for the Storm and Komets, switched sides during the game. He served as Fort Wayne's netminder early in the game and later was in net for the Toledo team.
“That was special,” Teskey said. “I had three great years at Fort Wayne and two of my best years were here in Toledo. So I have loyalty to both. It was just fun to be a part of it.”
Former Storm forward Taylor Raszka, a native of Petersburg, Mich., scored a hat trick and the Toledo alumni won 8-7 in a game that went to a shootout. Raszka, 26, played in 32 games in 2006-07.
“Watching the Storm brought me to the rink. Nick Vitucci and Andy Suhy were guys I watched growing up. So it was fantastic,” Raszka said. “It's fun to be out there with those guys.”
Toledo legend Jim McCabe, a 59-year-old former Goaldigger, tied the game at 7 late in regulation. Known as the “Tin Man,” McCabe said he always has had a special relationship with the Toledo fans.
“This keeps a connection with the fans and the fabric and history of hockey in this town. Every guy appreciates that,” McCabe said. “It was good to see all these familiar faces. And I had a great time.
“I had about four chances early and I probably should have had three [goals],” he joked. “But it was good to see it go in. It got to the point toward the end where nobody wanted to lose. Everyone was giving full effort.”
Storm forward Nick Parillo scored the game winner in the shootout as he rifled in a shot.
“This was really cool,” he said. “It's lots of fun getting out there playing at the Huntington Center. The first two periods I didn't want to take a hard shot. But then I put a little more on it.”
Toledo native Gordy Hunt, who played for the Storm in 1997-98, scored two goals. Former Goaldigger Dave Falkenberg scored in the shootout.
It was the first time the Walleye organization held an alumni game and it was part of the organization's Hockey Heritage Weekend.
Toledoan Mark Bartlett, who had a table full of scrapbooks in the concourse, had a photo of himself dressed as a hockey puck at the Sports Arena in 1999. He and his wife Billie compiled the memorabilia.
“I've seen a lot of old faces today,” Bartlett said. “It's great to see the old Goaldigger and Storm players play again. I hadn't seen them in years. This brings back memories.”
At 63, former Goaldigger goalie Ted Tucker started the game and looked spry at times in net. He stacked his pads to make one save near the midpoint of the first period. Tucker yielded two goals before being replaced by current Walleye coach Nick Vitucci, who played for the Storm.
“We were swapping stories with the guys and it was great walking off the ice in front of the fans,” Tucker said. “It was great to say thanks to the great fans of Toledo. I was treated so well here.
“I looked up with nine minutes to go and I almost went to the bench. You lose all your adrenaline. I was spent.”
Vitucci, who played the second period, said practicing with the former players on Saturday was a blast.
“We are fortunate that we have a long history of hockey here in Toledo,” Vitucci said. “The bricks and mortar of this arena were built on the blood and guts from those people that were on the ice today. They battled like warriors at the Sports Arena through many eras.”
Walleye goalie Jordan Pearce was asked if he picked up any tips watching his coach.
“He's obviously a little challenged with his size,” Pearce quipped. “But he looked good in his pads.”
Andre Vanopdenbosch, 65, was the oldest player who dressed for Toledo.
“It's awesome at this age to come and play with these young guys,” he said. “I hope I can do it again next year.”
The quote of the day came from fan Ron Wallace, who with the game tied at 5 said, “Somebody better score or sudden death may actually be sudden death.”
Wallace, a lifelong Toledo resident, wore a Goaldiggers jersey and has been a Walleye season ticket holder for the team's first four seasons.
“I go back to the Mercury days,” Wallace said. “I used to sit next to [owner] Virgil Gladieux. I saw a lot of good hockey at the Sports Arena. This brought back so many memories.”
The group of Toledo alumni included honorary coaches Jerry Badiuk, Bill Mitchell, Doug Mahood, Brian Kinsella, Greg Jablonski, Bob McBroom, and Mike Miller.
“This was great for us,” Kinsella said. “The guys are the same. They know how to play the game and have fun. They looked really good.”
Teskey admitted he was spent after regulation.
“The shootout was an insult to injury,” Teskey joked. “It had been 10 years. But it was a great way to finish it too. This was a ton of fun. But it pushes you. It was a great lineup on both sides. It's good to be in the room with the boys.”
Teskey, who said he skates only a couple of times a year now, said he plans to be a part of any future events.
“It's great to be recognized like this,” Teskey said. “I hope they do a home and home next year.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.