Gielczyk: Matteucci Takes Over Bay Reps
He played pro hockey for the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League, and was named the Michigan Hockey Association’s Earl G. Piper award as the 2017 Coach of the Year.
Mike Matteucci, a Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s detective, coached youth hockey with the 14U Bantam AA North Stars and served as Anthony Palumbo’s assistant at Traverse City West in 2006-07 and then coached with the North Stars Junior Hockey team in 2007-08.
The past two years he was Ray Fedorinchik’s assistant with the Bay Reps co-operative hockey team.
Just three weeks after Fedorinchik tendered his resignation from the Bay Reps post, the school hired Matteucci to be Fedorinchik’s replacement.
It would appear to be a good fit, for both parties.
With his past experience coaching youth hockey and then as an assistant with the Bay Reps, Matteucci is familiar with most of the players who’ll be suiting up this winter, making the transition much easier.
“The returning kids, I know all of them,” Matteucci said. “Some of the kids coming in I actually coached when they were younger, having coached youth hockey for years. I know the families.
“We didn’t have a lot of seniors last year, but we had a lot of juniors, so we had a lot of experienced kids. Obviously, high school hockey is different than coaching youth hockey, or even junior hockey.”
Although coaching a team made up of players from several different schools can be a very real challenge since many of the players don’t interact with their teammates during the school day, Matteucci is used to building team unity as a youth coach.
But that won’t be as prevalent this season, with a vast majority of the players coming from St. Francis.
Only a handful are from schools outside the Traverse City area, including a couple from Elk Rapids, one from Bear Lake and another from Kalkaska.
Experience is going to be the team’s primary asset with a large number of seniors on the roster who saw extensive playing time a year ago.
“It’s been pretty high tempo so far, beginning with the first summer skate,” said Matteucci. “Although it’s summer hockey, you have to enjoy your summer, but we’re at the rink working hard.”
Matteucci puts defense first.
“Defense is the most important part of the game,” the coach says. “I think everyone should play a good defensive game. Coming from my hockey background, I played for some defensvie coaches.
“Being a discipined team is also important. If you take care of those two things, the offense will take care of itself. We have some pretty dynamic offensive players coming back to our team, so I’m real excited about that.”
Matteucci believes that if he can get the Bay Reps to play a two-way game, and they’re playing more defensively, they can have the puck on their stick more often, or more frequent puck possessions.
And more puck possession can lead to more scoring. That, in turn, can translate into more victories.
Pretty simply and sound philosophy.
Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at email@example.com for story ideas.