United Way of Marquette Co. hockey fundraiser to feature NMU Wildcat legend

The fundraiser will also feature other former Wildcats, coaches, and U.P. natives playing on the Yooper’s United team and the Detroit Red Wings alumni team.
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 11:10 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - A local hockey legend and former NMU Wildcat is set to play in the United Way of Marquette County hockey fundraiser game this September. Justin Florek will be a part of the Yoopers United team against the Detroit Red Wings alumni team. Florek said now more than ever it is important to give back to your community, especially after the pandemic and he is looking forward to the opportunity.

“COVID hit us all hard especially non-profits,” Florek said. “There is a lot more need for money in the community and there was not as much charitable giving. this is a great event for us to all come together, raise money for United way and have a great time while doing it.”

Florek was a member of the Wildcats hockey team from 2008 through 2012 and has also played professionally for 10 years, having a stint with the Boston Bruins. Florek now plays for the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL.

Now, along with Florek, the Yoopers United team is comprised of other former NMU Wildcats, coaches and other players from around the U.P. all with different things they are looking forward for the game.

“Growing up in the U.P. of Michigan your team was always the Red Wings and you watched a lot of the guys that are coming up here,” said Chris Gobert, a former NMU Wildcat. “To actually get to play against some of them, it’s just something you dreamed about your whole life.”

A majority of the Yoopers United team gathered Monday, July 18 at Blackrocks Brewery along with United Way staff to introduce the team and catch up with old teammates and coaches.

“It’s really cool,” said Kevin Thomas, a Yoopers United team member. “There is a couple of coaches on there, a lot of NMU alumni. There is a lot of guys that I grew up kind of watching play and loved watching play. There are lot of my buddies that played at NMU or at other schools and were gonna try to put on a good show and have fun doing it.”

The United Way fundraiser hockey game between Yoopers United and the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Team is set for September 17 at the Berry Events Center.

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