By ERICK LEHMAN, Managing Editor
It was easy for Vince Macari to remember his son’s most memorable game as a University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey player.
It was 2008, and the Wolves found themselves down late in the third period against Western Michigan That is when Vince’s freshman son, Michael, took over and showed his dominance.
“Mike scored the tying goal to send it to overtime,” Vince said.
Just scoring the game tying goal wasn’t enough. Before time expired in the third period, Michael and his linemate both received penalties, which carried over into the overtime period, leaving the Wolves shorthanded two guys.
“They had to start off overtime two guys short, but they killed it off,” Vince said. “I remember as Mike was coming out of the box, he was wide open on a breakaway, and scored the game winner.”
Flash forward about seven years. On Oct. 9, Michael had his old number 12 retired and a banner hung next to the north scoreboard of the Fieldhouse, recognizing the excellent career he put together at UM-Dearborn after his memorable game against Western Michigan as a freshman.
Michael, known for being a humble player and an excellent leader, was very excited about the jersey retirement and having his number beside the scoreboard with Jesse Hubenschmidt, another former great whose number was retired in 1997.
“It’s a real honor, something I didn’t really expect or think of ever. I’m real humbled by it,” Michael said after the ceremony that was held during the first intermission against Davenport. “I can’t thank anybody but my teammates and university for it.”
Michael accrued 143 goals and 169 assists for 312 total points in his illustrious four-year UM-Dearborn hockey career. He was also a four-time first team All-American in the ACHA.
“He was the most talented player I ever played with, he was a special talent,” said former UM-Dearborn teammate Casey McLogan. “Great hands, great shot, great speed. And on top of that, he was a great leader and an even better friend.”
Michael was described as a gritty, hard working forward. He didn’t use unnecessary flash, but he got the job done.
“His playing style was hard working playing style; he worked hard,” McLogan said. “Like Steve Yzerman, he wasn’t flashy all the time, he showed signs of flashiness, but not unnecessary flashiness. He worked hard all the time, had a lot of grit.”
While Michael had a very rewarding hockey career, his parents Vince and Anne are more proud of his academic accolades, and the fact their son received a great education while being able to play hockey at the collegiate level.
“We’re proud of him, but we’re more proud that he got a good education and he’s out in the real world doing well. This is icing on the cake for athletics — getting his number retired,” his father Vince said. “He studied accounting, and he loved it here. He was a two time Academic All American, too.”
“He graduated with honors,” his mother added.
After graduating from UM-Dearborn, Michael sort of hung up the skates competitively. He still plays pick-up hockey, but wanted to get out into the real world after graduation.
“After UM-Dearborn, I didn’t try to go play anywhere, just got in the real world and started working and stuff. I didn’t waste any time,” Mike said. “Now I play with a bunch of guys I played with at U of M-Dearborn. (We) play men’s league and we have more fun than ever.”
Prior to the game, Michael and Hubenschmidt, who were both being honored, had a chance to talk to this year’s team and offer up a bit of a pep talk before they took the ice against Davenport University.
“I’m not as influential as Jesse was, don’t have as much experience as he does, but I told them they’re obviously off to a good start in the first six games, told them that was a big thing to be, especially how the rankings work,” Michael said. “Told them to take every game importantly and really cherish this time here.”
The pep talk Michael gave was a bit of a flipped switch from when he was a freshman, just getting started with his hockey career here. During his freshman year, the team was paid a visit by Hubenschmidt, the first player ever inducted into the ACHA Hall of Fame.
“It was funny because my freshman year (Jesse) came over and said something to us in the locker room,” Michael said. “It was special to see him again and share this opportunity and moment with him. It was really cool.”
It doesn’t end with just the jersey retirement, however. Head athletic booster Tom McLogan said that they are working towards the next step with getting Macari honored.
“The next step is to get him into the ACHA Hall of Fame,” he said. “We are going to get him in.”
Michael thanked his father Vince for being one of his biggest influences on his hockey career, as well as his uncle Anthony, who played hockey here at UM-Dearborn as well.
There was no shortage of happiness around the fieldhouse on this night, as everyone involved was happy to celebrate a great career.
“We are very honored the university did this for Mike,” Vince said. “We want to thank everyone — the school, the booster club.”
“There are no better people than hockey people,” Anne added.
“I just want to thank the university and the team for taking the time to honor me like this. I’m truly humbled,” Michael said. “It’s a lot of work for everybody from the announcers to the students working. I just want to thank everybody, and I’m truly honored.”