February 17, 2012

Big Rapids' Joe Spedowski A "Hockey Hero"

Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University will officially recognize longtime community member and supporter Joe Spedowski as its "Local Hockey Hero" on Saturday (Feb. 18) in conjunction with "Hockey Weekend Across America".

Spedowski will be honored during activities associated with "Hockey Weekend Across America" and "Warrior Hockey Day In Michigan" during FSU's Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) series finale against Bowling Green State at the Ewigleben Ice Arena.  The puck is slated to drop at 7:05 p.m. (ET).

The "Local Hockey Heroes" initiative awards individuals who go above and beyond to make the game of hockey great in Michigan with each CCHA member school selecting a recipient. Saturday's contest will be played on this year's seventh annual "Warrior Hockey Day In Michigan", which is ran in conjunction with "Hockey Weekend Across America". Michigan has over 63,000 USA Hockey registered players, coaches, and officials — the second most of any state in the country.

Spedowski first became involved in youth hockey more than 30 years ago and has held many positions in the Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association (BRAJHA) including team manager, team coach, board member and registrar.

Additionally, he became involved with USA Hockey nearly 23 years ago within the district where he has served as an association representative, district director and district chairperson.  After a five-year "retirement", he also came back to the District 6 Board as the area's BRAJHA representative.

Spedowski helped create the Adray West Michigan Hockey League along with his brother, Jeff.  The league is the current home to all BRAJHA teams and consists of squads from Ludington, Grand Rapids, Muskegon and down to Jackson.  The organization has been instrumental in the growth of youth hockey in West Michigan.

Along with his involvement in youth hockey, Spedowski was also in charge of the USA Hockey High School program for eight years and both of his sons, Joe and Mike, played prep hockey for Big Rapids High School.  He's also been an instructor in the USA Hockey Coaching program for the last nine years and currently runs five or six coaching clinics per year.

Spedowski, who was named one of Michigan Hockey's "50 Most Influential People In Michigan" in 2011 along with his brother, has also been active in Ferris State Hockey thru the FSU Blueline Club and has served as the rink maintenance director and a CCHA Off-Ice Official.

"Joe Spedowski has been a pioneer for the sport of hockey, not only in Big Rapids, but also for the entire West Michigan hockey community," said Tim Blashill, who currently serves as the Big Rapids High School Hockey coach and coordinates BRAJHA.  "He is currently serving on the BRAJHA board as our USA rep and has continued to develop our youth in the sport of hockey.

"On behalf of the Big Rapids hockey community, we would like to thank Joe for his outstanding service and committment to the sport of hockey," he added.

Spedowski's wife, Nancy, has been part of all his hockey experiences and many of the family's greatest memories revolve around the sport of hockey such as the outdoor rink on his property where many of his son's friends and former Bulldog players competed.

Tickets for all 2011-12 Bulldog home regular-season games can be purchased in advance by contacting the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888. The FSU Athletics Ticket Office's normal hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) weekdays. The ticket office will also offer extended hours until 7 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday's and Thursday's throughout the remainder of the regular-season and be open on hockey home game Saturday's at 12 p.m. (ET).

Single-game tickets for hockey may also be purchased by contacting Star Tickets at 1-800-585-3737 or online at Star Tickets website: www.startickets.com. Tickets are also available at all Meijer store locations in West Michigan and at the Student Services Office in the FSU Rankin Student Center.

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