Matzka Bringing Fight Against ALS to Yost Ice Arena [MGOBLUE.COM]

This first time came in describing the emotions of assisting on the game-winning goal in the 1998 NCAA ice hockey championship game, which the University of Michigan won, 3-2, at 17:51 of the first overtime period at Boston's Fleet Center.

"I picked up the puck in the (right) corner and kind of came out of the corner and made a pass to Chris Fox on the point," said Matzka of his teammate positioned on the other side of the ice and in front of Boston College goalie Scott Clemmensen. "He ended up bringing the puck down behind the net and found Josh Langfeld over there in the corner, and Langer just took a step, step and a half maybe, out from the goal line, and fired at the net.

"The goalie stepped off the post and the puck slipped in to get by his skate there, and it wasn't the most beautiful goal. But they say you can't score on any of the ones you don't fire on the net. It was a pretty surreal moment, and I remember the puck going in the net and looking at the refs, convinced they'd wave it off for some reason, but obviously they didn't. The rest is history. Winning in overtime is definitely a different kind of feeling."

The second time Matzka used the word to describe a strange, dreamlike moment came in discussing how he last year informed his longtime buddy and former Wolverines teammate and roommate, L.J. Scarpace, that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. It's a progressive neuromuscular disease, which brings an average life expectancy of two to five years.

"L.J. gave me a tour of Yost and we had lunch," said Matzka, who had fallen out of touch with Scarpace for several years, "and it was almost like no time had passed between us. We were jabbing each other and went back to the lounge at Yost. There was a pause in the conversation, and I said, 'I've got something to tell you.' I delivered this difficult news, which isn't very easy to deliver, and I could tell he was really affected. We shed some tears, and it was a surreal moment for the both of us to have this flash and think, why did it take this to reconnect us?

"From that moment on, we've been in regular contact and having lunches. He's been such big support in many ways and pulling this together."

Matzka will take the ice with his family -- wife Catie, daughter Reese, 7, and son Owen, 4 -- before Michigan's 5 p.m. game against Union College Saturday (Oct. 8) at Yost Ice Arena to drop the ceremonial puck for the ALS Awareness Game. Another Michigan hockey player, Jim Ballantine (1988-91), also will be remembered, and his family will attend to honor him and help bring awareness to the disease that claimed him.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to L.J.," said Matzka. "He's the driving force behind this, and obviously everyone in the program got on board. He's been an amazing friend. This has brought us back together and brought me back into the program. I'm also a patient at the University of Michigan Hospital. Everyone there and in the hockey program has embraced me. It's hard to put into words how appreciative I am and my family is for this opportunity. It's going to be a very cool event...READ MORE