The Peninsula Mic Macs hockey club took one on the chin Friday, but it was all in the name of a good cause.
The Mic Macs, a squad of some of the area's top men's skaters, dropped their exhibition game to Wazzup of Anchorage by a score of 9-1 at the Soldotna Sports Center, but the true winners from the event are the athletes involved in the Central Peninsula Special Olympics program, the beneficiary of the evening of hockey.
"We got better and better as the game progressed," said Mic Macs forward Tony Gabriel. "Those guys from Anchorage aren't that tough, and we've got some guys on our team that are pretty tough and aren't afraid to go into the corners.
"But the bottom line is that this game was for the Special Olympics. Mike (Gabriel, the event's organizer) came up with a good idea, and maybe it's a chance to get a men's hockey team off the ground."
"The Mic Macs are a community team," Mike Gabriel said. "We're here for the community, we're here for fund-raisers, we're here to help out non-profits."
While turnout wasn't quite as high as Mike Gabriel had hoped for due to icy roads -- even the visiting team had trouble getting to the arena with some nasty weather in Turnagain Pass -- those spectators on hand were enthusiastic in their participation.
Wazzup also was enthusiastic about participating in the event, and the top-rated men's senior team showed just how enthusiastic it was with six goals in the opening period. Wazzup captain Justin Marcum scored twice in the first period and finished the game with a hat trick.
"We came down with 12 skaters and a goalie. We didn't know what to expect," Marcum said. "This is the first time we've traveled with this team. Mike is trying to put together some sort of senior open league. I think it's a great idea if we can get it going. It gives us a chance to play other people instead of just the Anchorage teams."
The prospect of some intense competition intrigued members of the Mic Macs.
"That was a good team -- they were a lot faster than I expected," said Mic Macs goaltender Karl Click of the Wazzup squad. "I miss playing that kind of hockey. I'm really excited about playing more. It's nice to get that level of hockey down here."
Glick entered Friday's game during the second period and came up with 23 saves on 26 shots from a well-organized Wazzup attack.
The home team finally put one past Wazzup goaltender Coby Hansen in the third period. Ben DeRaeve split the Wazzup defenders with a pass to Travis Every. Every carried the puck up the middle of the Wazzup zone and put a low shot past Hansen with eight minutes left in the game.
"I think everyone came out a little panicky in the first period," Tony Gabriel said. "It was slap hockey -- you weren't really sure if you were going to get tanked in the open ice, and we all have jobs to got to tomorrow."
The Peninsula side settled into the game in the second period -- dishing out the hits as well as taking them. Mike Gabriel was optimistic that a little more practice time together would net a positive result the next time the Mic Macs take the ice.
"We brought down the best to see where we gauged," Mike Gabriel said. "Why start somewhere in the middle?"
Peninsula starting goaltender Eric Derleth made 12 saves on 18 shots during the first period. The Mic Macs put 15 shots on the Wazzup net.
Ken Ryther had a pair of goals for Wazzup, as did David Chatfield.
The resurrection of the Mic Macs has generated interest around the central peninsula. Mike Gabriel called Frank McIlhargey the father of the Mic Macs and said that the team's moniker comes from the name of a tribe of Native Americans from eastern Canada.
Fourteen sponsors jumped on the wagon for Friday's game, including Kenai Chrysler Center, Kenai River View Lodge, Peninsula Sand and Gravel, South Central Tesoro, Unique Bus Charters, Uptown Motel, GLM Turbines, Radio Shack, Sherry Morris Vocals, GAMAS Designs, KSRM/WHQ, Mail Boxes Etc., Pizza Boys and the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association.
Mike Gabriel also thanked Lynn at the Sewing Shoppe for producing T-shirts on short notice.
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